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Reasoning of a Madman

Dr Romesh Senewiratne

Speaking as a Reverberating Electrical Circuit

My working hypothesis is that my mind is simply the reverberating electrical circuit in my brain. This is a
reductionist, materialist hypothesis and I am not given to reductionism or materialism. Thats why its
only a working hypothesis one that I am trying to disprove.

I am conscious of these reverberating electrical circuits only because I have read about them, and I trust
the source of the information, as far as this particular fact is concerned. I accept, without counting them
myself, that we have about 100 billion neurons in our brains and they communicate with each other
through trillions of nerve fibres (outgoing axons and incoming dendrites) through a combination of
electrical and chemical signalling. Most of the signalling at the synapses is chemical (neurotransmitters)
but the propagation of the electrical impulse along the axon (as an action potential) is due to waves of
depolarisation caused by movement of positively and negatively charged ions across the cell membrane
of the axon. The network of neurones and the passage of electricity through it has been elucidated in
great detail over the past 500 years the longer history of the modern neurosciences.



The Brain in the Internet Age

Internet Age enabled by Digital Revolution of 1960s, which has also described as the Information Age
and the Third Industrial Revolution (after Agricultural Revolution and Industrial Revolution). Network
established in 1990s. Exponential growth since early 1990s.

Change in way brain has been understood, due to developments in neuroimaging and microscopy; and
so-called cognitive revolution in American academic psychology (departure from behaviourism)
resulting in CBT (reinventing talk therapies). Development of biopsychosocial model from purely
biological model and falling of Freuds theories to disrepute (along with hypnosis, persuasion and
debate/discussion) as treatment strategies (talk therapies). Attempts to bridge wide gulf between study
of brain and study of mind; consequent separation of psychology from philosophy; greater leaning to
mathematical and statistical models (population statistics/ individual rating scales self reported,
subjective or rated by observer (also subjective); computer modelling and neural networks; plasticity;
genetic studies; drug and chemical obsession (dopamine theory of schizophrenia; serotonin theory of



New Age psychology and reintroduction of open talk of soul and spirit spiritual no longer a dirty word
to doctors. Spirituality without religion. Theosophy, the pineal and the Third Eye of Shiva (also in
Buddhist iconography and custom of bindu/pottu); pineal and hallucinogenic experiences DMT cult;
pineal and marketing of melatonin; serotonin, SSRIs and the pineal; New Age syntheses of Third Eye
opening, pineal gland and chakra system;

Vedic concepts introduced in 19th century by German philosophers, based on idea that Sanskrit (from
India) was the mother language of all the Indo-European languages; explosion of interest with the
Beatles infatuation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of TM, in the 1960s. Meditation and yoga;
Brahmanism in physics; Deepak Chopra started with TM and Ayurveda before coining the term
quantum healing for his particular synthesis of east and west. Unnecessary mysticism.

Blavatskys delusion about root races, Atlantis and the pineal incorporated into New Age ideas,
especially in UK, in the 1970s, with resurgence in 1990s. Graham Hancock theories about civilizations
submerged by great flood after last ice age, 10,000 years ago taken up by Tamil nationalists, who
claimed his documentary as evidence of the continent of Kumari Kandam that was written about in the
ancient Tamil Sangam literature. Kumari Kandam was said to be a vast extension of the Pandyan
Kingdom of south India, which was submerged by a massive flood thousands of years before the Sangam
Age (around 300 BC). Modern discoveries about the movement of the tectonic plates and the history of
sea level changes during the ice ages from the geological record show, conclusively, that there was no
continent of Kumari Kandam, although the sea level was certainly lower during the last ice age (which
ended about 10,000 years ago). At this time the coastline of India did extend into what is now the Indian
ocean but only by tens, and not hundreds of kilometres (as the Kumari Kandam legend holds).

Beliefs and the Brain

No belief without memory

Brain substrate of memory

Neural mechanisms for logic

Beliefs lead to actions belief and behaviour

The role of emotions in belief

Reasoning and the frontal lobes

Holding contradictory beliefs

Conviction, Certainty and Delusions

Being convinced of something

Being persuaded by someone or something

Degree of conviction

Theory, hypothesis and possibility

False beliefs and false, fixed beliefs (delusions)

Reasoning from first principles

Scientific reasoning

Inductive and deductive reasoning

Belief of the basis of authority (scriptural, expert, parental)

The God Delusion and Dawkins Delusion

Reasonable and unreasonable beliefs

Who decides what is reasonable?
Diagnosis of unreasonable beliefs

Diagnosis of unreasonable reasoning methods and styles

Argument. Persuasion and Suggestion

Changing beliefs by debate

The art of persuasion (religious, philosophical, psychiatric)

Suggestion and hypnosis

Reaction to the arguer

Reaction to the debater

Reaction to the persuader

Persuasion by oratory

Persuasion by logic

Persuasion by emotional appeal

Holism and Reductionism

Fritjov Capra

James Lovelock (gaia theory)

Lynn Margulis (endosymbiosis)

Rupert Sheldrake (morphic fields)

Jan Smuts (holism coining of term)

Satish Kumar (holism New Age)

Vandana Shiva (ecology dubious claim about zinc)

Deepak Chopra (quantum healing, ayurveda)

Stan Grof (parapsychology)

Dean Radin (parapsychology)

Robert Lanza (biocentrism)

Rudolph Tanzi (dementia consciousness)

Spirituality without Religion - journey of the soul

Meditation and Deep Contemplation

Descartes and meditation

Contemplation and a contemplative life

Walking as a catalyst for contemplation

Meditation and mantras

Meditation and relaxation

Health benefits of relaxation

Contemplation leads to insights (which may be true or false)

Meditating on music and with music

Meditation and Positive Self-Affirmation

Repeating om-shanthi by Satish Kumar

Levels of Consciousness
Waking consciousness

Degree of alertness

Degree of observation
Degree of awareness

Attention and concentration

Sleep quiet and active (REM)

Role of the brainstem, midbrain and thalamus

Role of the limbic system

1940 Papez circuit from injecting rabies into brains of cats (injected into hippocampus, which was
considered central to emotions now more associated with memory):
Role of the cortex

The role of neurotransmitters dopamine, glutamate

Caudate nucleus:
What about the pineal? The gland/organ has sympathetic innervation via the superior cervical ganglion
(SCG) and parasympathetic innervation via the pterygopalatine and otic ganglia. What is the significance
of this? There is also innervation by the SCG of the choroid plexus (which secretes CSF).
The Hard Problem of Consciousness

How does the brain produce the mind?

Does the brain produce the mind?

At what stage of development does the foetus develop a brain?

At what stage of development does a foetus develop a mind?

The mind as an emergent property of organized nervous systems

Is consciousness the movement of electricity in the brain?

Altered States of Consciousness

Telepathy and its pathologisation

Spiritual experiences and the development of delusions

Ordinary and Non-ordinary states (Grof)

Aspects of the Conscious Mind

Attention divided; directed; thalamus; RAS; frontal lobes; limbic system

Concentration focused attention





Language generation, comprehension (Broca and Wernicke)

Connectivism and its limitations

Neural Correlates of Consciousness



Midbrain amine-generating networks dopamine, Ach, serotonin

The Mind-Brain Relationship

The mind influences the development of the brain (plasticity)

The mind affects activity in the brain

The brain influences development of the mind

The brain affects activity in the mind

The Mind-Body Relationship
The brain is part of the body

Brain-body connection also two-way flow of information and causality

Adding Soul to the Mind and Body

The moral dimension

Ethics and being good

Aristotles concept of soul

Cricks explanation of soul

Is soul different to mind?

Is soul different to spirit?

Is spirit the same thing as consciousness? (Chopra)

Does the soul survive death?

Reincarnation, Hinduism and past lives

Heaven, hell and purgatory

Evolution of the Soul

Collecting truths

Increasing awareness concept of enlightenment bringing wisdom

Developing virtues (metta, karuna, muditha, upeksha; shanthi)

Ridding oneself of vices (Catholic seven deadly sins; Buddhist greed, hatred, delusion)

Dharma is it truth or law?

Karma and its attendant evils the truth of causality and the evil of blaming misfortunes on sins in past
lives; tendency to lead to misattribution of cause (confirmation bias)
The framing of a holistic philosopher

From my distant vantage point in the antipodes I have observed the Indian philosopher Satish Kumar
being professionally framed. He was framed in 2006, for the British public, as an Enemy of Reason. The
framer was the famous Darwinist Richard Dawkins, who used incriminating edits of an interview with
the elderly philosopher and activist for his two-part expose of enemies of reason for British television.
The Oxford English dictionary says that framing in the way that I have used it is a slang term, but
Australians use lots of terms that were once regarded as slang. Even our politicians speak in colloquial
slang. It is the language of the people, of the public.

TV has been used to frame people as good guys and bad guys since its invention. It has always been a
tool of propagandists, but it has also been a source of enlightenment. I regard the wonderful BBC nature
documentaries by David Attenborough as enlightening, and Attenborough as a modern sage. He has my
utmost respect and I respect him as an enlightened being. I think Attenborough knows much more
about nature than the Buddha, Mohammed, Moses and Jesus Christ combined. From my antipodean
perspective he is more enlightened than these revered religious figures, when it comes to the light of

I also think that David Attenboroughs wisdom goes far beyond his knowledge of nature which is why I
regard him as a great sage in addition to a great scientist. He is a nice guy and he shows it in everything
he does. He has a highly developed moral sense. He knows what is right and what is wrong what is
good and what is evil. He doesnt talk about these things, but he shows it clearly in the narratives of his
numerous, awe-inspiring documentaries about the natural world.

David Attenborough was always presented as a good guy by British TV, and by all accounts he was one. I
have never heard anyone say a bad word about Attenborough. Not so, Richard Dawkins, who is a
controversial figure even in Britain. The Oxford Universitys Professor of the Public Understanding of
Science has, because of his strident atheism, become a polarising influence, pushing some to defence of
their religious beliefs, and others to attack religion, superstition, pseudoscience and believers with
added vigour. I started with considerable support for Dawkins views but as the years have gone by I
have wondered about his methods, and his own system of beliefs. He has called himself both a
Darwinist and a spiritual Atheist, though he also says that he is technically agnostic but places himself
at 6 or 6.5 on a hypothetical atheism scale from 1 to 7. What does he mean by Darwinism, and how does
this differ from the belief in evolution by natural selection that my zoologist mother and I hold, though
we have never called it Darwinism (which sounds uncomfortably like a religion)? What does Dawkins
mean when he uses the term spiritual, in calling himself a spiritual atheist? How different is this to
Satish Kumar and Deepak Chopras ideas of spirituality?

The BBC has changed a lot, but it still has, like every other national broadcaster, a national bias, or at
least a national perspective. David Attenboroughs documentaries reveal the most beautiful and
magnificent aspects of that perspective. Support for various wars, glorification of the British Royal
family, and the building of national myths, and exaggerating the virtues of their national heroes, while
ignoring or minimising their faults and failings are less positive aspects of the BBC.

The documentaries The Root of All Evil and The Enemies of Reason, were made by British Channel 4 (C4)
in collaboration with Dawkins, rather than the more conservative BBC. C4 began broadcasting in 1982,
as the fourth national broadcaster (after BBC1, BBC2 and ITV). The objective, with any TV station is to
attract viewers, and C4 had an obvious disadvantage against the older established stations.
Controversial titles are an effective way of attracting viewers. A root of some evil, would be a more
accurate title for The Root of All Evil, but whos going to watch such a boring expose? Likewise in The
Enemies of Reason, C4 insisted on using the in the title, making Dawkins seem more dogmatic than he
actually is.
Dawkins speaks in plain English and his concern is with the truth. When he made the documentary
framing Satish Kumar and Deepak Chopra as enemies of reason in 2007 he was the Professor for the
Public Understanding of Science, a position that made him the public face of the British scientific

Rather than his scientific academic colleagues, the British public that was the target of Dawkins polemic
documentary exposing the purveyors of superstition and complementary and alternative medicine as
The Enemies of Reason. The first part was subtitled Slaves to Superstition, and exposed Satish Kumar as
a New Age guru (as well as English astrology and spiritualism) and the second, titled The Irrational
Health Service targeted homeopathy, and the quantum healing of the Indian-American physician
Deepak Chopra. Chopra has been described as a diamond-encrusted guru by another British professor,
Brian Cox. Deepak Chopra is also associated with the New Age, and both he and Kumar (who are friends)
describe their respective approaches as holistic.

Six years after Satish Kumar was framed as an enemy of reason for British viewers, more of the story has
become evident from two You Tube postings, both in May 2013. Richard Dawkins: Enemies of Reason
Part I Slaves to Superstition was posted by Anti-Theist on 12 May, 2013, and has had 108,649 views
on 14.6.2015; the more reasonably titled Richard Dawkins interviews Satish Kumar (Enemies of Reason
Uncut Interviews) was posted a week earlier, on 4 May 2013 by Bernardo Segura of the University of
Chile, and has had 117,372 views. Viewers have overwhelmingly liked both postings the former has
1018 like versus 38 dislikes, the latter has had 913 likes and 42 dislikes. The two versions are neck and
neck on the Internet, but when it was first aired on British television, all that was seen was Professor
Richard Dawkins version. This presented Satish Kumar as an enemy of reason, a slave to superstition,
and a threat to civilization itself. It seems to me, after watching the two documentaries, that Satish
behaved in a rather more civilized way than Dawkins and Channel 4.

Though most viewers have liked the Dawkins documentary about the evils of superstition, the most
popular comment out of 1447 comments on the uncut version shows support for Satish Kumar, from a
Dawkins fan, which has 60 thumbs up so far. This is the comment of a young Indian man by the name of
Aviram Vijh, who wrote, in March 2015:

I almost revere Dr Dawkins. He is a brilliant scientist who has made important contributions to
our times. However, I dont find anything too unreasonable about what Satish says. He makes
some good points and clearly states that he is NOT sure, but that is how he understands the
nature of things. You cant talk to a philosopher and expect him to talk in scientific terms. That is
not what philosophers do.

Perhaps owing to our convict heritage, we talk in Australia of people being framed in the sense of
what lists as an informal use of the word to incriminate (an innocent person)
through the use of false evidence, information, etc. The incrimination of Satish Kumar was not
accusing him of being a criminal, but an enemy of reason and a slave to superstition. Furthermore,
there was no manufacture of false evidence Satish Kumar himself provided the evidence by agreeing
to be interviewed. He was, nevertheless framed, as I understand the word, through selectively
choosing the most unreasonable things he said during the 45 minutes that Dawkins interviewed him.
Dawkins and Channel 4 (C4) could have selected the sanest, most rational, sensible things that the
philosopher said, of which there were plenty to choose from. This was obviously not the plan. It was to
frame him, as an enemy of reason. I wonder if the philosopher was warned about the intended title of
the program? In my opinion, what Dawkins did to Satish Kumar was not gentlemanly conduct it just
wasnt cricket to use the old English gentlemans exclamation. But Dawkins belongs to a new breed of
British professor who doesnt believe in such niceties.

I like the fact that Dawkins doesnt beat around the bush and speaks in plain language (though he has
invented a few neologisms of his own, such as memes). This is a relief from the obscure waffling of
philosophers and the incomprehensibility of much academic scientific writing to anyone not familiar
with the specific jargon of the discipline. I like people who talk straight, and Dawkins has a well-deserved
reputation for speaking in plain, understandable English. He also has a gift for rhetoric and invective in
his writing, as well as a sophisticated sense of humour. Hes a charming guy, and when he smirks at
stupidity (which C4 makes the most of) it is funny for those who are on Dawkins side. This side, in his
divided world of reason and its enemies is the side of reason. In other words, Dawkins puts himself
forward as the voice of reason. I have often found myself on his side, but when it comes to his
treatment of Satish Kumar, not because I agree more with Kumar than Dawkins, but because I think it is
wrong to frame people as enemies of reason without good reason.

Though I doubt that he has full insight into it, Richard Dawkins used standard hypnotic tricks of TV and
film-making to frame Sadith Kumar as an enemy of reason. He used the power of suggestion with
manipulation of the audience to convince them of his credibility, get them onside and demonise the
enemy. The enemies in this case were identified as New Age gurus, whoever they are, and however
they be judged as such. It is clear that the Sanskrit word for teacher has become a pejorative term in the
west, since guru means nothing more than teacher. Doctor also means teacher, but derived from the
Greek, rather than the Indian tradition.

Let me take you through the stages of the hypnosis and carefully edited manipulation, step by step. The
documentary starts with Dawkins sitting in a room with four or five people sitting in comfortable chairs
in a comfortable English house, with their eyes closed, chanting what sounds like a Tibetan Buddhist
mantra. The Oxford professor is sitting rather awkwardly on a chair, looking bemused. His voice, dubbed
as a voiceover introduces the subject at hand by extolling the virtues of science (not mentioning that the
cure for smallpox was developed by Islamic science in the Turkish Ottoman Empire and not western or
British science):

Science has sent orbiters to Neptune, eradicated smallpox and created a supercomputer that
can do sixty trillion calculations per second. Science frees us from superstition and dogma and
enables us to base our knowledge on evidence. Well, most of us.

The film cuts to scenes of Orthodox Jews and Catholics bowing and praying, taken from his previous
documentary The Root of All Evil, with the continued narrative:

Previously Ive explored how organized faith and primitive religious values blight our lives.
There is then a sudden edit, intended to rouse the indignation of women, with Dawkins as their knight in
shining armour. We watch a few seconds of a dark-skinned man with a beard and shaved head, looking
like the stereotypical young Muslim terrorist, though sporting an American accent:

You take the women and dress them like whores on the street.

We cant see Dawkins face but we hear him reply I dont dress women, they dress themselves.

Dawkins has obtained our sympathy and support for his valiant crusade against chauvinism. He clearly is
not a male chauvinist pig like the other guy. We are even more on his side when his disembodied voice

The fault lines lie even deeper than religion. There are two ways of looking at the world
through faith and superstition, or through the rigours of logic, observation and evidence
through reason. Yet today, reason has a battle on its hands. I want to confront the epidemic of
irrational superstitious thinking.

Pleasant hypnotic music and colourful, rotating roulette wheel induces a deeper trance, as the
convincing voice of Dawkins warns that, Its a multimillion-dollar-pound industry that impoverishes our
country (though I would have thought his country would have increased economic growth as the result
of the blossoming of superstition, if indeed this is occurring).

The narrative is interrupted by a bald middle-aged man, and dressed in a dark coat and blue shirt that
matches Dawkins own when he finally makes an entrance in person. The man is preposterously telling

Astrology tends towards the divine and sacred, which I know you dont like much.

We naturally come to Dawkins defence at this attack on our hero, who previously defended the right of
women to dress themselves. Our state of suggestibility has increased, and our critical reasoning

The image cuts to some of Deepak Chopras books on a shelf, such that you can read the title Quantum
Healing, followed by a more lingering image of a titled Working with Angels, Fairies and Tree Spirits.
The scene has been set for framing of Satish Kumar, with the continued Dawkins narrative:

And throws up New Age gurus who encourage us to run away from reality

The image cuts from the books to an elderly Indian gentleman with fine features and rather sparkly eyes
explaining that the tree-ness is a spiritual quality. Or the rock-ness? Dawkins asks. Or the rock-
ness Kumar confirms.

One does not see Satish Kumar again till the end of the documentary, when a bit more of their
discussion is shown. What was chosen to portray him as an enemy of reason was the most
unreasonable thing he said, from the perspective of Dawkins and Channel 4. This was the most
unreasonable thing he said in their 45-minute exchange from my perspective too, but it was not that
unreasonable and most certainly does not make this respected philosopher an enemy of reason.
There were Western and Eastern philosophers discussing the idea of panpsychism long before the New

At no stage does Satish Kumar suggest or imply that we should run away from reality, as Dawkins
alleges new age gurus are in the habit of doing. The philosopher does suggest that we go for a walk if
we become stressed, which is great advice, and rather better than medical advice to take a Valium. He
has been teaching a philosophy of what he describes as holism as the opposite of reductionism, and
philosophises that what is spiritual is everything that is not material. Friendship, compassion and love,
he regards as spiritual and he has centred his philosophy of peace around concepts such as these. He
talks about the quality of something being the spiritual aspect and the quantity of something being the
material aspect, which come together as the whole. This is a metaphysical idea that is not new, original
or particularly New Age. Like many of the ideas of the New Age gurus Dawkins distrusts, Kumar draws
Indian philosophical concepts from the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions, such as ahimsa, karma,
shanthi and moksha. This does not make him an enemy of reason, though he could quite reasonably be
regarded as a guru, using the Sanskrit terminology of the same traditions.

Kumar has developed the slogan of soil, soul and society as an alternative trinity to the Biblical
trinity of father, son and holy ghost or mind, body and spirit. These are radical ideas, but Kumar is a
radical philosopher in his gentle, friendly way. His ethos is to promote mindfulness and engagement
with life, consciously promoting a philosophy of serving the planet and others, maintaining an
awareness of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living beings. He calls this spirituality,
which is very different to superstition or organized religion; Kumar is adamant that he does not believe
in the supernatural. Even if he did that would not make him an enemy of reason, any more than other
religious people.

The snippet about tree-ness and rock-ness being spiritual qualities, can only be understood in the
overall context of what Kumar teaches about the difference between what is material and what is
spiritual. His view is that the human-ness of humans is their spirituality in the same way that the tree-
ness of a tree is its spirituality and likewise the rock-ness of a rock. This may sound like woo-woo, as
sceptics call such ideas in the USA, or more kindly, mysticism. It is a form of panpsychism the believe in
universal consciousness, which often assumes that mind or consciousness precede matter.

I dont personally believe in panpsychism, and think that consciousness is an emergent property from
complex nervous systems. I think the brain produces the mind but I also believe that that the mind has
profound effects on the development and activity of the brain. Over the past two decades I have
devoted a lot of time exploring this relationship between the mind and brain, and the relationship with
the brain and body, attempting to develop a holistic model of health. I have been calling this model
holistic since 1995, with the simple idea that holism means merely that in biology the whole can be
more than the sum of its parts, and that these parts need to be looked at in the overall context of the
Holism is necessary to gain an understanding of the big picture, and is the remedy for both splintering
and reductionism in science, especially biology and medicine. Holism is necessary to understand the
brain, which functions as a whole, producing a single entity that we call our mind our self-identity. The
mind (of which the consciousness mind is only a part) emerges holistically from the activity of the brain
consciousness cannot be localised to a particular region of the organ, though there are some parts of
the brain more associated with alertness and concentration that others. The known function of the brain
indicates that many mental functions are localised, while others are more widely distributed. Putting in
all together and understanding it as a whole is what I regard as holism.

When I adopted the concept of holism twenty years ago, in reference to my medical approach (which is
strictly scientific) I had not heard of the man who apparently coined the term in 1929 in a book called
Holism and Evolution. This was a racist South African general by the name of Jan Smuts, who was more a
politician than a scientist. I havent read this book, and dont know how Smuts connected holism and
evolution. Satish Kumar is known for his philosophy of holism; Dawkins is an expert and enthusiast of
evolution. I believe in both holism and evolution, and have tried to gain a holistic understanding of
evolution and of biology generally.

The talking head and hands of Satish Kumar are shown in the introductory minutes of the documentary
Enemies of Reason as a New Age guru and slave to superstition before the grand entrance of Dawkins
himself, the star of his own show, and champion of Reason with a capital R. The professors narrative

As a scientist I dont think I dont think that our indulgence of irrational superstition is
harmless. I believe it profoundly undermines civilization. Reason and a respect for evidence are
the source of our progress, our safeguards against fundamentalists and those who profit from
obscuring the truth.

Then comes the moment the intros been building up to the appearance of the guru of atheism who
has been preparing us with a grim warning about the imminent downfall of society at the hands of
sinister new age gurus like Satish Kumar:
The hypnotic process continues through the program, maintaining a state of suggestibility in the viewer.
You get to like and trust Dawkins, though his very reasonable ridicule of some ridiculous English men
and women doing ridiculous things.

Its a pretty harsh thing to call someone an enemy of reason, especially an apparently kindly old man
who has been a leader of the environmental movement for many years and who made his name, and
gained a reputation and following, as a peace activist and editor, rather than a man of science. Reason
comes in many forms, and Satish Kumar displayed both reason and wisdom in his responses to the traps
Dawkins set for him. He came prepared with the first trap holism.

The scene was filmed with both men sitting on a bench and the conversation is amicable and polite.
Dawkins starts by saying that he think they have quite a lot in common, like a shared admiration of
Bertrand Russell. This was said with the pre-knowledge that Satish Kumar had an anecdote he liked to
tell about how he was inspired to become an anti-nuclear activist by the example of the English
philosopher being jailed at the age of 90 for his opposition to nuclear weapons. Dawkins laughed and
agreed that Russell was a great man, then went straight for the kill. He got down to the business of
trying to get the Indian gentleman to prove to the viewing audience that, like astrologers, dowsers, and
conmen who claim to be in touch with the dead relatives of gullible English audiences, Satish Kumar is
an enemy of reason.

Now, youre very keen on holism. Holism is a word that I associate with General Jan Smuts,
What does holism mean to you?

Satish Kumars idea of holism is centred on connection and context:

Holism means to me that things are connected nothing stands in isolation, so when you look
at a tree, you dont just look at the tree. You know the tree exists only because of there is the
soil, there is the sunshine, there is the airso many things make up the tree. Looking at the tree
in isolation without the context, without the holistic view of the surroundings will be wrong, in
my view.

Its not exactly how I would define holism, but hardly the answer of an enemy of reason. Kumar
qualified what he said with, the phrase in my view hardly a dogmatic attitude. This was his attitude
throughout the interview. He didnt seem arrogant or opinionated; rather he cheerfully explained his
philosophy and world-view in English words that an English audience can understand. This is not easy
when the language of your philosophy is based on Sanskrit and the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist traditions
of India, rather than Latin and Greek and the Protestant Christian tradition.
Rather than scientific or religious texts or teachers, Satish Kumar credits his mother, who was illiterate
but wise, for his core philosophy of being a pilgrim. He argues that science is only one way of gaining
knowledge and that the scientific way is only one way of many. Insight, love, compassion and intuition
are other ways of acquiring wisdom. These, because they are not material, are what he calls spiritual,
and the development of love, compassion and other virtues is what means by spirituality, from my
understanding of the interview. Though efforts have been made to explain love and compassion in
terms of evolutionary psychology these are untestable theories and I find them uninteresting
compared to the broader cultural understanding of love, and philosophies that promote love, rather
than hate. I also have a deep belief in pluralism, and the right of people to believe whatever they like as
long as it doesnt harm others. For this reason I regard Satish Kumar and Deepak Chopra (and the
astrologers, mystics and New Agers the confronts in these documentaries) as far less dangerous
enemies of reason than people (the vast majority of whom are men) that order bombs to be dropped on
other people. When the New Age became popular, back in the 1960s, the children of the Age of
Aquarius were resisting conscription to fight in the Vietnam War and were part of the Peace and Civil
Rights Movement. They were celebrating new, revolutionary music created by black and white
Americans together, and racial integration was one of the themes. Astrology bubbled away in the
background, but the New Age was a social and cultural movement that transcended astrology; it was
about optimism about a better, more peaceful and harmonious future, when young people were no
longer forced to go to war which meant to kill and maim innocent villagers in Vietnam. The slogan,
which was made into posters for teenagers such as myself, advertised for sale on the back of comic
books imported to Sri Lanka in the 1970s, asked suppose they gave a war and nobody came?
The five original members were Billy Davis, Jr., Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, LaMonte McLemore,
and Ron Townson. They have recorded for several different labels over their long careers. Their first
work appeared on the Soul City label, which was started by Imperial Records/United Artists Records
recording artist Johnny Rivers. The group would later record for Bell/Arista Records, ABC Records, and
Motown Records.

The tribal rock musical Hair debuted on stage in 1967 was written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni
with music by Galt MacDermot (Canadian composer and musician). Rado and Ragni were not
themselves members of the hippie culture, and actively researched the hippies (as Rado has since
described them) to write the musical. The shows main theme was opposition the Vietnam War, which
Rado knew would be controversial, . The stage show was also controversial in including a nude scene
which was added for extra spice when the play was moved to Broadway.

By the seventies, when I entered my teens, the New Age had already been commercialised.

Milos Forman (One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest in 1975) made film adaptation of Hair in 1979. Czech
film director Hair bass player and singer?
Renn Woods is an African-American film and television actress/singer, best known for her role as Fanta
in Roots, and also as the girl with flowers in her hair who sang "Aquarius" in the film version of Hair.

according to Wikipedia (the best source for some information and downright awful for others):

The New Age movement is a religious or spiritual movement that developed in Western
nations during the 1970s. Precise scholarly definitions of the movement differ in their emphasis,
largely as a result of its highly eclectic structure. Nevertheless, the movement is characterised by
a holistic view of the cosmos, a belief in an emergent Age of Aquarius from which the
movement gets its name an emphasis on self-spirituality and the authority of the self, a focus
on healing (particularly with alternative therapies), a belief in channeling, and an adoption of a
"New Age science" that makes use of elements of the new physics.

The New Age movement includes elements of older spiritual and religious traditions ranging
from monotheism through pantheism, pandeism, panentheism, and polytheism combined with
science and Gaia philosophy; particularly archaeoastronomy, astrology, ecology,
environmentalism, the Gaia hypothesis, psychology, and physics. New Age practices and
philosophies sometimes draw inspiration from major world religions: Buddhism, Taoism,
Chinese folk religion, Christianity, Hinduism, Sufism (Islam), Judaism (especially Kabbalah),
Sikhism; with strong influences from East Asian religions, Esotericism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism,
Idealism, Neopaganism, New Thought, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Universalism, and Wisdom

when I wrote Alpha State: A State of Mind for the New Age, I had not even made the connection
between astrology, the Age of Aquarius and the New Age. The New Age, for me, began in the 1990s,
because thats when I was introduced to the movement that Richard Dawkins sees as the enemies of
reason, including the physician Deepak Chopra.
Satish Kumar does not claim to treat or heal, and was in the first episode slaves to superstition rather
than the second The Irrational Health Service, which is devoted to exposing medical charlatans as
enemies of reason. The Indian-American physician Deepak-Chopra, who has made a name for himself
by marketing a combination of Ayurvedic treatments, ritual mediation and various relaxation strategies
and dietary regimes as quantum healing was targeted, with rather more justification than Satish
Kumar, who makes it quite clear, in the unedited version of their interview, that when he says spiritual,
he does not mean supernatural. Kumar does not believe in the supernatural, and believes that
everything is natural, but that all life is interconnected and interdependent. His way of speaking is poetic
and Indian, and the concepts he used are the product of his culture, which is very different to that of
Richard Dawkins, who is very English indeed (though born in Kenya, which was then called, by the
British, British East India).

Dawkins has been described as old school, and this has an element of truth in it there is no older
school in the English-speaking world than Oxford University. From my perspective both Dawkins and
Kumar are old men, though Kumar is a few years older than Dawkins, which in the English language as
used in Australia, is commonly called senior to. Old people gain wisdom by virtue of the longer time
they have spent on the planet the wisdom of age and experience that are traditionally respected in
cultures around the world. Wise old men have been regarded as sages in the East and the West. The
difference is that Satish Kumar is a sage in the Indian tradition, where sages and teachers are all called
gurus, while Dawkins is a sage in the British tradition, where sages are called professor emeritus. By
that token, in the British hierarchy, Dawkins is not yet a sage. In the Indian tradition, he would be guru
Dawkins or Guru Richardawkins. That would mean venerable teacher Dawkins in a tradition that has
great respect for teachers and teaching, and hold gurus in high regard.

Wiktionary provides this explanation of guru:

From Hindi (guru) / Urdu ( guru), from Sanskrit (gur, venerable,

respectable). A traditional etymology based on the Advaya Taraka Upanishad (line 16)
describes the syllables gu as 'darkness' and ru as 'destroyer', thus meaning "one who
destroys/dispels darkness".

The Upanishad talks about awakening the kundalini and thus realizing Brahman, the Absolute
Reality. Its verses on the importance of the guru (teacher) are often quoted.

The Upanishads (Sanskrit: ,) are a collection of texts in the Vedic Sanskrit language
which contain the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism,
some of which are shared with Buddhism and Jainism. The Upanishads are considered by Hindus
to contain revealed truths (sruti) concerning the nature of ultimate reality (brahman) and
describing the character and form of human salvation (moksha).

I have also seen old men deliberately playing the part of sages, by adopting the stereotypical style of a
wise old man, and telling anecdotes of their youthful exploits and the important people theyve met.
They play on the cult of the guru the natural tendency to worship and obey old men with beards,
under the mistaken assumption that they are wise because of their white hair and long white beards.
This is seen as the superstition of Merlin and Gandalf in the West and the superstition of the omniscient
guru in India. Professors sometimes wear a beard for this precise reason, though the habit has rather
grown out of fashion as long white beards have become associated with the Maharishi Yogi and the
mystical gurus with Mercedes Benz cars. The Modern Western professors are mostly clean-shaven;
the fashionable ones wear a bit of stubble to show how non-conformist they are, while others sport long
hair, a moustache, or shave their heads, according to their idea of fashion and style. I have watched the
evolution of the dress and grooming of celebrity professors over the years with some amusement.

The framing of Satish Kumar and Deepak Chopra as enemies of reason was done in 2007 by the British
television station Channel 4 (C4) with the enthusiastic assistance of Richard Dawkins who wrote and
presented the documentary (in broad modern parlance) titled The Enemies of Reason. Rather than a
documentary, The Enemies of Reason was a polemic against what Dawkins regards as the irrationality of
superstition and religion, which he sees as threatening the civilization itself. The Enemies of Reason was
a continuation of the battle he began with The Root of All Evil? (he was apparently able to get a question
mark added to the provocative title C4 had planned). Irrationality and superstition are concerns that I
share, but I think what was done to this elderly Indian philosopher, was rather unfair. I reached this
opinion after watching the edited and unedited versions of the interview between Dawkins and Kumar,
which are old news, but Ive been belatedly catching up with the antics of the popular British
evolutionary biologist.

There are several edits of their interview on YouTube. The longest, almost 45 minutes long, contains
both the shorter segments I have watched, one in the documentary itself, and another short segment
posted by a supporter of Satish Kumar, where the philosopher makes a great deal of sense (cheekily
titled Satish Kumar schools Dawkins). The long uncut version was posted in 2013 by someone at the
University of Chile, and has had a few more views on You Tube than the C4 documentary itself, which
was also posted on YouTube in May 2013. The two versions give very different impressions of the
philosopher and activist.

In the unedited version of the interview Satish Kumar happily admits that he is not a scientist, and
cannot prove what he says, when he talks about spiritual and material aspects of the world. He has,
however, been a leader of the environmental movement in the UK Dawkins describes him as being on
the sandal-wearing end of the green movement and that he counts among his many fans Prince
Charles and the Dalai Lama. He is also the editor of Resurgence magazine, which I am not familiar with.
I have gathered that he is also the founder of an institution called Schumacher College in the UK, that
boasted as its first lecturer James Lovelock, the founder of the Gaia Theory.

Dawkins, on the other hand, is a famous professor of science, from the esteemed and ancient Oxford
University, and Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford when he made The Enemies
of Reason. Satish Kumar was not scientifically trained; rather he was trained as a Jain monk, before
being inspired by a book by Gandhi to leave the order and live in a Gandhian ashram when he was 18.
He became well-known after he and a friend walked on what he called a pilgrimage from the grave of
Gandhi to that of JF Kennedy in the 1960s, apparently inspired by the example of the philosopher
Bertrand Russell being failed for protesting against nuclear weapons at the age of 90. I gathered this
from the uncut version of the interview, which I watched before investigating the presentation of Satish
Kumars philosophy in the televised documentary, which aired in Britain in 2007.

The Enemies of Reason followed Dawkins successful polemic documentary The Root of All Evil, which
also came in two instalments made and aired with the assistance of Channel 4. Dawkins wrote the
scripts, then narrated and presented the two episodes, which aired in 2006, the year before Enemies of
Reason. He released his controversial The God Delusion around the same time, making him many fans
and admirers as well as quite a few enemies. It was a divisive book, and intended to be so his mission
since then has been to promote the causes of atheism and Darwinism, which he regards as synonymous
with reason and science.

Youve agitated or angered one of the supposedly calmest people on the planet, Deepak Chopra

I just tweeted some factpauselaughs, provoking laughter in the studio audience.

I tweeted something joking about the origin of the universe, or something and he tweeted back saying
Im going to shove my cosmic consciousness up your arse.

Apparently Chopra corrected him when he called him a diamond-encrusted guru saying that the
stones on his glasses, that Cox was laughing at, were actually rhinestones. Cox goes on to talk about the
marvels of science and his own project to try and get the government to take seriously the remote
possibility that the earth will be hit by a meteor. Welcome to modern science, and the science of the
Internet. This is a science that communicates in plain language and calls a spade a spade. It is the
science that Dawkins engages in with remarkable vigour for a man of his age. Dawkins is a scientist of
the Internet Age, who tweets like the best of them, and engages in televised debates where he argues
that religion and science are incompatible. Dawkins has been leading the charge against the irrationality
and superstitions of religion and mysticism, without fear or favour. Hed denounced Christianity,
Judaism and Islam the monotheistic religions the venerate Abraham in The God Delusion, how he
turned his attention to the religions of the East, where he was up against the New Age movement with
its New Age gurus.

Im not picking on homeopaths, astrologers are mad as well

These documentaries were made with the assistance of British Channel Four (C4) which aired them in
2007. Dawkins and C4 had previously collaborated on The Root of All Evil, which also came in two parts,
going to air in Britain in 2006. Capitalising on the publicity, Dawkins released The God Delusion, which
expanded on his argument, presented in the documentary, the root of all evil is nothing more or less
than religion. The solution to the superstition and evil of religion, in Dawkins argument, was science and
a scientific understanding of the world. Since then, Dawkins has become a key protagonist in a battle
between science, pseudoscience and anti-science, in which I have been mostly on his side.

The difference between pseudoscience and anti-science is that the former dresses itself up as legitimate
science, while the latter is critical of the scientific way of looking at things, or the visible results of
science and technology, such as ever-more-lethal weapons, pollution and deforestation, and the
development of new scientific methods of killing and enslaving people as cogs in a great scientific
machine. The anti-science movement points also to the manifold failings of the medical profession, and
its reliance on drugs and surgery as methods of treatment, and neglect of natural healing mechanisms.
The anti-science movement is also characterised by various conspiracy theories, of wildly varying
credibility. These include conspiracy theories about vaccines, fluoride, and more recently, chem-trails
and geo-engineering. These conspiracy theories are all argued on the basis of what is taken to be
scientific reasoning and evidence, though what they mean by science is not what was declared to be
the scientific method by Karl Popper.

The Austrian philosopher Karl Popper developed the doctrine that the scientific method consisted on
developing falsifiable hypotheses followed by efforts to falsify them. You could never be absolutely
certain about anything, just more certain. This is the paradigm that all the so-called new atheists, like
Dawkins, accept to be the scientific method and why he maintains that he is not certain about the non-
existence of God, but that he is also not certain of the non-existence of the tooth fairy. Uncertainty is a
core assumption, according to Poppers philosophy, which he called critical rationalism.

Popper famously argued that he cannot even be absolutely certain that the sun would rise the next day,
just because it had risen every day in the past, or that the Laws of Physics dictated that it would. He
argued against coming to conclusions in the basis of inductive reasoning and discussed, in great detail,
the relative merits of inductive and deductive reasoning with other sages of his day. These included the
Australian scientist John Eccles, who was famous for his role in discovering the electrical and chemical
role of synapses in the brain.

The men and women that Richard Dawkins identifies as enemies of reason are, in my opinion, variously
misinformed and deluded. So are the people he identified in The Root of All Evil, in which he confronted
what he termed the God Delusion. In Dawkins own terminology God delusion has become a meme,
a unit of thought that can be transmitted culturally, and be subjected to selective pressures. Is this a
reasonable meme, though? Is it good for society to regard everyone who believes in God to be deluded?
More importantly, is it good for the British establishment to start calling people of other religions and
persuasions deluded because they dont adopt a British scientific way of looking at things?

The scientific paradigm promoted around the world by Oxford and Cambridge universities, the centre of
Britains academia for hundreds of years, teaches that delusions are a sign of mental illness, and a
diagnostic feature of schizophrenia, mania and delusional disorder. Schizophrenia is the advocated
diagnosis for odd or bizarre delusions, while non-bizarre delusions are taught to be more
diagnostic of mania and delusional disorder. The treatment for delusions, regardless of the label
that is applied, is drugs that block neurotransmitters in the brain, rather than reasoned debate in a
conducive environment. The environment in which those labelled with delusions are treated is that of a
locked ward, from which they are physically prevented from leaving. This is the case in Britain, and it is
also the case in Australia and, to a greater or lesser degree, around the world. Under the existing
system, though, less than 5% of the population is deluded. This is because religious beliefs are
specifically excluded, in psychiatric diagnostic systems, from being diagnosable as delusions.

This book is the result of my digesting The God Delusion over decade, in the back of my mind while
battling the Australian psychiatric systems very real, and very cruel treatment of people who are
diagnosed with delusions. This system was developed in Britain with inspiration from Germany and
exported from Britain to Australia as a means of variably controlling natives, settlers, migrants and
convicts and modified by American psychiatry in recent years. A person with a delusion is mentally ill
according to this diagnostic system, and rather than being caused by others (the act of deluding
someone and thus causing delusions) it is taught, in universities around the world, that delusions are
caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, and signs of serious, incurable mental illness. Delusions may
be variably diagnosed as evidence of schiozophrenia, schizo-affective disorder or mania, all of which can
be used as diagnostic justifications for forced treatment in closed (meaning locked) wards. Whether
the delusion is diagnosed as evidence of schizophrenia or mania depends on how odd or bizarre the
delusion is, and assessments are also made of how strongly held they are (degree of conviction or
intensity). If the delusion is not deemed to be bizarre people can still be diagnosed as delusional
disorder and have drug treatment forced on them. In the Western medical system, delusions are
indicative of psychosis being out of touch with reality. The standard treatment for delusions is not to
convince them out of the delusions by reasoned debate, but to force drugs into them by mouth or
injections, and locking them up until they agree that they have an incurable mental illness. This is
termed gaining insight into the disease. This is the problem with saying that everyone who believes in
God is deluded, and one of the problems that I will try and address in this book. Frankly, I enjoyed The
God Delusion, but the behaviour of Dawkins since then has made me think he may be bit of an enemy of
reason too. I dont think it is reasonable for a professor of the public understanding of science declare
people deluded without a knowledge of the current scientific and medical treatment of delusions in his
own country.

What does it matter how a professor is dressed, you may ask? It matters a great deal since it is how
the professor creates an image that others judge him or her by. There is a difference between how
female and male professors dress and present themselves to the public and to their peers and students,
and to what they choose to wear when they are in front of a camera. I am more interested in the clothes
men wear and how they shave their head (if in fact they do) than the dress-style of women, when it
comes to a sociological and psychological analysis of professors, and how it came to be that an
esteemed Oxford professor chose to frame an Indian philosopher who is not a professor, an academic,
or scientist as an enemy of reason rather than having a healthy, interesting conversation with him.
What makes Dawkins tick, in other words?

This book is the result of my pondering the words and actions of Richard Dawkins more than anyone
else. I began by liking him, though I had never met him, and had no idea of what he looked like, how old
he was or how he dressed. I had no idea whether he dressed at all or wrote stark naked it was his
words and how he expressed his ideas about the evils of organized religion in The God Delusion that
made me like him. I had previously read The Selfish Gene, but other than the concept of memes, which I
have found useful I was not much influenced by his evolutionary ideas, having already read and very
much enjoyed the popular science books of the great Stephen Jay Gould, whose opinions about
evolution I had every reason to trust, and did. Gould was a Harvard professor who was also famous as
being an evolutionary biologist and an opponent of creationism being taught in American schools,
but argued that religion and science belonged to different domains and could co-exist peacefully. Gould
also wrote passionately and wittily about the failings of science, where evolutionary theory had gone
wrong, and where academia had made mistakes in his own field of palaeontology. He also wrote about
the difficult questions in evolution, such as how the theory explained the marvel of the human eye or a
birds wing (such as how is a part-wing an evolutionary advantage). One thing I learned from Gould that
hadnt considered before was the flaws in design which disprove the idea of a perfectly designed
creation the theme of his book The Pandas Thumb. I was also mesmerised by Goulds Wonderful Life
about the fossil discoveries in Burgess Shale in Canada, of a fascinating array of animals, most of which
disappeared in the mass extinction event that preceded the Cambrian explosion that I had read about
when I was a child. I grew up reading about dinosaurs and evolution, and didnt find Dawkins idea that
the primary determinant of selection is the gene particularly startling. This was the central theory put
forward in the Selfish Gene. I knew that some people would misunderstand the title as meaning that
people are naturally selfish that they have a gene for selfishness. This would be a natural mistake,
but not how I interpreted Dawkins theory. I understood it quite easily, since it is the logical, linear result
of reductionism within a materialist paradigm. This is the paradigm in which I was educated.

I have not read Dawkins book The Blind Watchmaker (1986) but I have watched the documentary he
made of the same name. In this documentary, Dawkins argues for gene-centred evolutionary theory and
against intelligent design, as well as the bizarre claims made by biblical fundamentalists in the USA at
the time that fossilized dinosaur tracks included the footprints of humans alongside those of the
dinosaurs. This confuses two issues crazy ideas based on fundamentalist Christian creationism that the
earth is only 6000 years and reasonable criticism of a gene-centred view of evolution. I didnt doubt
evolution, and I was well aware that evolutionary theory proposes randomness only for the variation
of a species and not its selection, which is far from random. The selection is based on reproductive
success, which requires survival to reproductive age, at least. Darwin and Wallaces similar theories
were that speciation occurred through the survival of some individuals rather than others. These
surviving individuals passed on various inherited traits to their offspring, and the whole process of
evolution was determined by the fact that some survived and others didnt. The strong survived and the
weak perished; the best adapted to an environment survived while those less well adapted perished, or
rather, did not have as good reproductive success. Dawkins argues that the selection occurs not on the
level of the individual but on the gene. Others think that natural selection occurs also on the individual
and group levels. In my opinion there is natural selection on all these levels as well as between species
(which doesnt cause speciation, of course) and there is also natural selection of what Dawkins calls
memes. Biology and zoology merge into anthropology and sociology, without clear borders.

The theory of the interconnectedness of life, which I read about in the early 1990s, did not come to me
from an ancient or mystical source. It was strictly biological and materialist, in the opening pages of a
book on Australian fossils with a foreword by the great British zoologist and film-maker David
Attenborough, who truly deserves the title of modern sage. The theory was described in the book
Riversleigh as the concept of the four-dimensional bioblob, which is that all organisms are related to
each other and physically connected through the fourth dimension (time) creating a gigantic shape-
changing organism moving though time and space. This is an extension of the old tree of life, concept,
bringing it into the modern age, and is an assumption of modern science, though the meme of four-
dimensional bioblob never caught on.

I read about the four dimensional bioblob concept in 1992, and struck by the implication that all humans
are physically connected, and that all primates are physically connected, if one goes far enough back in
time. Everyone on the planet has been evolving for the same amount of time, there is no race that is
more or less evolved, though racial differences do exist, and are obvious to see. To recognise race and
racial differences is not to be racist to make negative judgements on the basis of race is. Making
negative judgements on the basis of national stereotypes is regarded as much more politically correct,
around the world, and the basis of much hilarious comedy. Somehow people dont mind their
nationality being made fun of by themselves and even by others, though nationalism has been the cause
of many wars over the years.

Nobody these days makes fun about peoples race on British TV anymore, but it was commonplace in
the 1960s and 1970s, with tasteless sitcoms like Love Thy Neighbour, where the central theme was
the supposedly comical intolerance and traded insults of honky and nig-nog between a racist black
man and a racist white man, both of whom were middle-aged, living in the British suburbs. These were
ignorant working class stereotypes, that the TV stations in the UK exported for us to watch in
Australia, where no one was insulted as a nig-nog, but a whole nation was denigrated as abos,
coons, boongs and other terms of abuse for what the British homogenized as blacks. Ill take this
matter up again later.

The racial stereotypes of Love Thy Neighbour, which aired in the early 1970s, were a distinct
improvement on those of the Black and White Minstrel Show of the 1960s and the comedy

Devotion to ones guru is deeply engrained in Indian culture, more so that devotion to ones professor,
however esteemed they may be, and however popular they are. No one worships Dawkins, but he has
many fans who hero-worship him. He has a fan base which he plays to and interacts cordially with.
Dawkins is a professor of the Internet Age, and was computer-savvy long before the rest of us. He was
part of the generation that developed computers and first used them in the biological sciences. His
debate with Sadith Kumar showed how different their perspectives are when it come to
An enemy of reason is a person who wont listen or let you finish your sentence. A person who is rigid
and dogmatic, maybe. Are they enemies of reason or enemies of Dawkins? Not enemies he is conscious
of, but unconscious or subconscious enemies?

Kumar was the only self-identified philosopher featured in the first episode, subtitled slaves to

In the second episode, titled The Irrational Health Service, the enemies of reason were identified as the
purveyors of various alternative health treatments, many of whom are indeed enemies of reason, and
dangers to society. Im right behind Dawkins in his expose of alternative health quackery, including the
pseudoscience of Chopra and that of the purveyors of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I strongly agree
with him that ancient does not mean true and the product of accumulated wisdom through the ages.
The ancients in India and China (and those in the Middle Ages) did not know about the Periodic Table of
Elements or the existence of cells, and very little about anatomy and physiology. I agree that these were
products of the European Enlightenment that have transformed, fundamentally, medical and scientific
understanding. Doctors can also be enemies of reason, though, and medical treatments can do more
harm than most alternative treatments, because the drugs used are more powerful than the usual
concoctions of herbs, vitamins and minerals that people waste their money on, and much more
dangerous than the placebos sold as homeopathic treatments. There are many situations in which water
is safer than a prescribed drug though of course, one might as well drink water out of a tap at home.
How guilty is Satish Kumar of being an enemy of reason? What about the two doctors, Deepak Chopra
and Manjir Samanta-Laughton, who were also featured in the Enemies of Reason documentaries, along
with assorted con artists and obviously deluded New Age charlatans? What is the New Age movement,
and to what extend has new age philosophy become a religion? Was it a religion all along, or has it been
made into one?

The first book I actually finished, back in 1996, was titled Alpha State A State for the New Age. The first
chapter was titled Western Medicine and Holism. Ill begin with the first two paragraphs of this book,
which I never sought a publisher for:

In recent years there has been increasing criticism of and disenchantment with western
medicine and psychiatry from a range of people. These include patients who have in their
perception received superior care from alternative and natural health practitioners, natural
practitioners themselves who criticise western medicine for its excessive use of potentially toxic
and extremely expensive drugs and its lack of a holistic approach to individuals they treat, which
leads to a lack of sustained cures for many of the conditions treated by western doctors.

A rare group of critics of western medicine come from within the community of western
trained doctors themselves. Some of these defect to alternative medicine, others give up
medicine altogether. A few, like Deepak Chopra have made attempts to integrate eastern and
western medicine but have, as a result of it been denigrated and ostracised by the
establishment doctors and specialists who view him as a crackpot at worst or a maverick at

A few years later I wrote in red pen the note I think, really, he is a bit of a crackpot! Especially his
explanation of Vedic science and quantum healing.

Back in 1995 and 1996, when I wrote this book, I was excited about the New Age the Age of Aquarius.
The hippie anthem from the musical Hair, which proclaimed the dawning of the Age of Aquarius was
one of my favourite songs when I was a teenager. The Age of Aquarius topped the Billboard singles
charts for six weeks in 1969, and even made it even to Sri Lankan airwaves, where it was played on the
countrys only English music show on the radio, at the time. Its a brilliant song, carefully crafted to draw
you in and hypnotise you with melody, harmony and groove. A strong Black female voice lures you in
before the chorus that reverberates in your mind, reinforces as it is repeated The Age of Aquarius, the
Age of Aquarius...AquariusAquarius. The last Aquarius resolves decisively in the melody.

I only noticed the words of the chorus when I fell in love with the song. I fell in love with the Black
woman who sang the song too, though I had no idea who she was or what she looked like. I fell in love
with the beauty of her voice, like many other young men of the time. The song remained in the back of
my mind till the Age of Aquarius was reinvented as a marketable commodity and profitable religion in
the 1990s.
I didnt listen to the lyrics of The Age of Aquarius closely enough to realise that they were singing about
an age based on astrological conjunctions, and that the Age of Aquarius followed the Age of Pisces. I
didnt believe in astrology, though I knew I was on the cusp between Virgo and Libra, having been
born on the 22nd of September. Associating the idea of Virgo with a young woman a virginal one at
that I preferred, in my youth, to regard myself as a well-balanced Libran than a feminine Virgo. In the
1990s, when I was in my thirties, I was told by experts on such matters that being born in 1960 meant I
was definitely a Virgo and that I was also a Rat according to Chinese astrology. By then, I couldnt have
cared less I had long outgrown the superstition of astrology; even as a child I never really believed it. I
did know that my mother was a Piscean and my sister a Gemini, though I never really attributed any
other characteristics to this label.

The New Age I was writing about in the 1990s, had less to do with belief in astrology than a social and
intellectual movement that looked forward with optimism to the millennium. This movement was, as
Richard Dawkins rightly points out, extremely superstitious it was a time that people started seriously
discussing the healing powers of crystals and the predictive powers of tarot cards, along with parallel
dimensions and alternative realities. Young people in Melbourne in the 1990s were enticed into
shops that sold charms, and assorted magical trinkets. Rupert Murdochs Harper-Collins corporation led
the action a series of books published by as their Aquarian series included the titles: Understanding
Astrology; Understanding Tarot; Understanding Runes; Understanding Reincarnation; Understanding
Crystals; Understanding Chakras; Understanding Numerology; Understanding Dreams; and
Understanding Astral Projection. If you hadnt been driven crazy enough by this superstitious nonsense
you could obtain more delusions from Dowsing; How to Develop your ESP; Incense and Candle Burning;
Invisibility and, believe it or not, Levitation. If you believed the rest you probably would not baulk at

This Aquarian series is the real culprit when it comes to enemies of reason, and it should be Rupert
Murdoch who should be interviewed by Professor Dawkins if he wants to get to the root of the evils of
the New Age religion. Let me quote from Understanding Auras, first published in 1987, and authored by
a man who is otherwise unidentified, named Joseph Ostrom. The book cost me $12.95, and I bought it
only because I was collecting evidence of a conspiracy to drive people mad and then diagnose them as
having schizophrenia. This was an original hypothesis I was looking for evidence, based on the
observation that the same beliefs being promoted by Harper Collins in their Aquarian series was being
promoted as evidence of schizophrenia and psychosis in other publications by the same corporation, as
well as by mainstream medical and psychiatric opinion since long before I studied medicine. Whats
more, they really were delusional beliefs.

Looked at in religious terms, one might put forward the hypothesis that the New Age religion is one of
many religions created by Rupert Murdoch and his media empire. He took a social movement that
crystallised around opposition to conscription during the Vietnam War, the theme of Hair, which
generated several hit songs, and made a religion out of the Age of Aquarius the New Age religion. This
is quite different to the New Age movement, which is spiritual, rather than religion, and characterised by
its emphasis on ecology, environmental values, international friendship and peace, and similar values,
that are sometimes regarded as green or left. I think the term left is best left alone, with its
connotations of the pompous debates between the Left and Right wings of the British parliament, but
the concept of the left and right in politics has changed a lot since then. Left means reasonable and right
means extremist, greedy, materialist and capitalist. But left also means corrupt trade unions and
clueless street marchers, marching under various left wing banners and slogans. Left meant Marxist,
and I never was a fan of Karl Marx. If Marxists meant fans of Groucho or Harpo Marx I would have seen
more sense it. They were funny. I have to say I find economics boring, which is why I know nothing
about it; maybe thats why Im poor.

The New Age was fresh and new

by and instructed them on how to read auras and chakras.

What was, in the 1970s, a new age, is not new anymore. We are well into the Age of Aquarius; about
forty years into it. This age is going to last for hundreds or thousands of years its our long term future.

The song peaked at number one for six weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in the
spring of 1969. The single topped the American pop charts and was eventually certified platinum in the
U.S. by the RIAA

Drugs, racial integration, nudity, anti-conscription, anti-Vietnam War music and optimism.

Counter-culture; counter-terrorism and Chomsky

Bertrand Russell
I call him the Diamond-encrusted guru says the British physicist Brian Cox of Deepak Chopra, referring
to Chopras spectacles. It got a laugh from the studio audience. Cox knows how to work an audience, as
indeed Chopra does. Born in 1968, Cox is a young professor at the University of Manchester and a
science presenter on the BBC. He knows much more than Chopra about physics, and this makes gives
him a good position to make fun of the New Age guru and his wacky ideas about quanta, non-locality
and other quantum physics concepts.

I had never heard of Manjir Samanta-Laughton, but I noted the obvious fact that Satish, Chopra and
Manjir are all of Indian origin. Chopra and Satish Kumar have many admirers, which Dawkins is prone to
describe as followers, in line with his description of Satish Kumar as a New Age guru. Chopra is also
frequently called by the same Indian word for teacher. The endocrinologist himself prefers to call
himself a sage and a scientist the Chopra Center had a Sages and Scientists conference in the USA in
2014. The speakers at the Sages and Scientists included many names I have never heard of, but a couple
and just a couple, that I had heard of the neuroscientist Christsof Koch (who worked with Francis
Crick, famous more for his role in the discovery of DNA than his later career as a neuroscientist) and
Chopra himself, whose book Quantum Healing I read twenty years ago when I was seeking an
integration between Eastern and Western scientific models myself.

In the USA, medical doctors are identified by the letters MD after their name (standing, in the direct
American way for Medical Doctor). This is a status symbol, which is earned through a medical degree,
but it is more than a status symbol it indicates that one has studied and passed a basic medical degree.
In the American system, every lecturer in the university system is called a Professor. The British, more
formal and obsessed by hierarchies in their political, academic and medical systems have a complex
system of titles and letters that can be written, before and after ones name. These are granted on the
authority of the Crown that the Queens ancestors have worn on their heads for several centuries. This
crown is encrusted, I have heard, with jewels from India. The same Crown inflicted this rigid hierarchy
and system of Royal honours and qualifications on its colonies, including Australia.

The British university system places professors above associate professors, above plain old lecturers,
who are divided between senior lecturers and junior lecturers, who are above tutors. The progression
between tutors, lecturers and professors is evident from their job descriptions the tutors teach, the
lecturers lecture and the professors profess to know. Its all about knowledge, but taught according to a
strict hierarchy. The main objective academic objective is to climb the ladder though when one
gets to the top, ones main job is to administer the behemoth of ones department. Some professors
love building empires and these are the ones that succeed in doing so. Academia is a competitive world
in the West. This means that professors have to beat their competitors to get the top job. This is done
through a range of means, the most obvious of which is publications number of publications and,
often to a lesser degree, quality of those publications. Even when considering quality of the
publication, the yardstick is not the scientific merit of what is written, but the prestige and reputation of
the journal or book publisher.

Richard Dawkins, Deepak Chopra and Satish Kumar have many fans to use another once slang term
that has become common vernacular. Talking of fans as enthusiasts rather than rotating contraptions
emerged from the era of TV and mass-media. Fans were short for fanatics the Beatles had fans, with
an ambition of attracting as many fans as the idol Elvis Presley, who was worshipped as the king. This is
pop culture, and I am a child of the pop culture of my time; so, despite their age, were Dawkins, Chopra
and Kumar. Pop culture, like all culture, changes and evolves. It evolves much faster than biological
evolution cultural evolution occurs over weeks, months, years, decades and centuries, rather than
millennia and millions of years. Pop culture is a more recent development than popular culture, though
the term is used synonymously. In the world of music, though, there is a clear distinction between what
is popular and pop music. Pop music is not considered to be high art the fact that it is popular is
seen as indicating its inferiority to more refined tastes. There is plenty of snobbery in the world of music,
and this is directed towards what one declares one likes; when I grew up it was not cool to admit you
liked pop music, even if you did. It was OK to be a music fan or sports fan, because the slang word fan
had evolved in its use such that it no longer means fanaticism, but mere enthusiasm. The word love
might be a better word I think it reasonable to love both the music and the musicians who bring one
the gift of beautiful music. Love is very different to fanaticism, a point that I suspect would be better
appreciated by the philosopher Satish Kumar than the scientist Richard Dawkins.

This culture had outgrown fanaticism and the hysteria of teenage girls screaming and sobbing at the
mere sight of four white English boys who were often on TV, where they played to the love-struck
emotions of girls who imagined they were in love with them. The Beatles gave the word love a bad
name. It became clichd and silly, and when I grew up in the orient and antipodes my family and friends
were not fans of the Beatles, Elvis Presley or any of the pop stars who sang silly love songs. We were
variably interested in classical, pop, rock, folk and jazz music, but not fanatical about the men and
women who performed it. This is not to say that we didnt fall in love with pop stars but at least we
which is, again short for popular I am a child of Western popular culture, and, had I remained in
England, where I was born, I would no doubt have been brought up to have an ambition to go to Oxford
or Cambridge

Deepak Chopra

Eric Topol, MD

Jack Andraka

Kyra Phillips

Rudolph Tanzi

Bruce Vaughn

Christof Koch, PhD

Deepak Chopra

Eric Topol, MD

Jack Andraka

Kyra Phillips

Rudolph Tanzi
Deliberate meditation position of hands
Peace with the Cosmos

I hope this to be a contribution to science and philosophy, more than a literary work. I like writing, but I
dont enjoy typing, and am not good at it. Ive seen the fluidity, speed and accuracy of writers who grew
up typing and marvelled at it. For me, typing is a slow and laborious process, conducted with two fingers
and two thumbs.

With pen and paper I do much better, since thats how I learned to write, but doctors dont learn to
write well. In fact, doctors writing was notorious for its illegibility before the Internet Age. I studied
medicine and worked as a GP before the Internet Age transformed medicine, along with the rest of
science. Now what matters is not how clearly your writing can be written but how clearly you express
yourself, and how well you reason based on evidence the Internet Age brought the era of evidence-
based medicine, a catch-phrase that emerged in the 1980s and is still widely used. Who in their right
mind wouldnt medicine to be evidence-based? Having been trained in evidence-based medicine and
worked as a doctor who thought his treatment methods were based on sound scientific evidence I have
been pondering the evidence on which I, and other doctors, base their treatments. In doing so I have
tried to maintain a holistic approach not to miss the forest for the trees, as the saying goes.

One problem lies in what evidence based medicine analyses, and the categories it uses for this
analysis. Wikipedia provides this example:

A 2007 analysis of 1,016 systematic reviews from all 50 Cochrane Collaboration Review Groups
found that 44% of the reviews concluded that the intervention was likely to be beneficial, 7%
concluded that the intervention was likely to be harmful, and 49% concluded that evidence did
not support either benefit or harm. 96% recommended further research.[52] A 2001 review of
160 Cochrane systematic reviews (excluding complementary treatments) in the 1998 database
revealed that, according to two readers, 41.3% concluded positive or possibly positive effect,
20% concluded evidence of no effect, 8.1% concluded net harmful effects, and 21.3% of the
reviews concluded insufficient evidence.[53] A review of 145 alternative medicine Cochrane
reviews using the 2004 database revealed that 38.4% concluded positive effect or possibly
positive (12.4%) effect, 4.8% concluded no effect, 0.69% concluded harmful effect, and 56.6%
concluded insufficient evidence.[54]

Complementary and alternative what do they mean?

Reasoning involves a manipulation of words and numbers


y in medicine; not like in geological time.

I wonder and ponder much more than I speak or write. I didnt always. I used to speak and write much
more than I do nowadays, back when I was working as a family physician. Most of my writing, for many
years, consisted mainly of writing notes about my patients, and most of my speaking was giving
medical advice. I also spoke to my family and friends, and rarely to my medical colleagues, but most of
my talking was to patients, and most of my writing was also about patients.

Then, twenty years ago, I became a patient myself. This had the effect of stopping me from talking, from
which I have never fully recovered. I can talk, quite reasonably, about many things, but I dont
customarily do so. The physical effects of the haloperidol syrup that first stopped me talking wore off
long ago, and I am quite able to talk, and talk quite normally again. The total experience of having this
drug forced on me has scarred me much more than the chemical effects alone.

This is a book about me, my wonderings, ponderings, musings and conclusions. Why should you care
about any of these? Well, you may not. I am not a philosopher or a historian, but I have come to
philosophical and historical conclusions based on my reasoning, not as a philosopher or historian, but a
scientifically-trained doctor. Medical education is not big on philosophy and history, nor on geography,
geology and the other non-medical sciences. Scientific training is strictly divorced from the arts, which
means that we learned nothing about emotional responses to music, conversations or literature in our
training. These are some of the things I have been pondering about over the years, and occasionally
writing about.

Most of my writing over the past twenty years has been about psychiatry, though I am not a psychiatrist.
The books I have written have not been widely read, though they have been diagnosed as evidence of
mental disorder and paranoia by one of Melbournes most senior professors of psychiatry, Professor
Bruce Singh, who offered the opinion, in a letter to the Victorian Medical Board that whilst individual
paragraphs and pages contain scientifically valid material and thoughtful comments and criticisms,
interspersed amongst these are clearly paranoid outbursts and much is made of guilt by association.
Professor Singh presented his perspective of our one and only meeting in a letter addressed to Dr
Joanne Katsoris, registration manager at the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria with this
introductory paragraph:

I saw Dr Senewiratne on 1 May 2001 in my office at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Dr

Senewiratne presented with a large briefcase full of multiple manuscripts that he had written
and a book that he had published himself, he showed me many of these over the course of the
interview. I had also been sent a copy of his manuscript on schizophrenia prior to my seeing
him. My comment on all of the documents shown to me is that whilst individual paragraphs and
pages contain scientifically valid material and thoughtful comments and criticisms, interspersed
amongst these are clearly paranoid outbursts and much is made of guilt by association.

Professor Singh did not mention the manuscript on schizophrenia I had laboured over for many years
by name; it was a 400-paged book I had recently finished and printed a dozen copies of which I had,
after some deliberation, titled The Politics of Schizophrenia dodging the Inquisitors and Curing
Delusions. I knew that the title would be seen as provocative when I sent a copy to the Medical Board,
when they accused me of being an impaired practitioner. I was defiant in my comparison between
psychiatrists and Christian inquisitors, and that it was a good idea to dodge them. I did not really expect
Professor Singh to agree with my argument that:

The word psychiatry is derived from the Greek psyche (mind/soul) and iatros (treatment). It
refers, literally, to treatment of the mind. This treatment can be cruel or kind. If it is cruel, it can
be expected to compound existing problems (and can, moreover, be defined as torture). If it is
kind, it can lead to relief of suffering and distress. Despite the popular idiom that one must
sometimes be cruel to be kind, cruelty and kindness are opposites; it is not possible to treat
someone cruelly and kindly at the same time. Neither is it necessary to be cruel to achieve
therapeutic success, unless therapeutic success is defined as compliance with the orders of the
therapists. If successful therapy is so defined, and, in the area of psychiatry it often is, then
cruelty becomes a powerful tool for forcing upon the patient the opinions and views of the
therapist. (p 170)

Psychiatry in theory is rather different to psychiatry in practice. I had rather hoped that Professor Singh
would give me a fair hearing, after reading how important he recognised cultural context to be in
psychiatry. Transcultural psychiatry was a fashionable new trend that had been featured in the local
newspapers, along with a photograph of Professor Singh, who is noticeably transcultural in that he
looks Indian and has a well-known and common Indian name. As you can see, from this Flikr posting
(which mentions only that he is Chair of the Board), Professor Bruce Singh wears a tie and a suit, and this
is how he was dressed when he spent an hour attempting to diagnose me with one or other disorder.
He did have the option of declaring me to be mentally well, but that meant allowing me to have
divergent views in medicine without pathologising me.
Professor Singh wrote, regarding my medical approach, He states that he takes the holistic approach to
medicine and says that he practices scientific medicine and does not prescribe herbs or vitamins. He
listens to his patients and uses investigations when appropriate. In his final impression the important
man wrote that I suspect that it is probably true that Dr Senewiratne has the capacity to insulate his
more conventional medical treatment (with the notable exception of psychiatric disorder) from his
broader range of ideas and views regarding the world for much of the time. His final curse:

This is not the situation of a man willing to accept that he has an illness and to have treatment
for it this is an intelligent man who is creative and intellectually highly active who is convinced
that he is not ill nor in need of treatment. This is a potentially dangerous combination for any
professional and particularly a doctor interacting with the community.

This paragraph was bound to still like mud, since it is was what read last; being often the only thing that
is actually read of a five-paged report. It was a written curse that doomed me, and that I have been
fighting ever since. I have been pondering and wondering about this curse, and how to escape it. I have
been thinking about labels of mental illness as curses and men like Bruce Singh as the Grand Wizards of
the cult of psychiatry or the high priests of the religion of psychiatry, if you prefer. They are also the
masters of the mind in the Free World, who rule their global enterprise though manipulation and
hypnosis, as well as what they call biological treatments drugs, shock treatment and brain
mutilation. These are better known in Australia by the euphemisms of medication, ECT and
psychosurgery. This is the paradigm I had when I was diagnosed as having a paranoid personality by
Professor Singh, though I minced my words when I spoke to him, and hid my disdain of the empire he
and the other kings of psychiatry had built in Australia. Not that Australia was my home, in fact Bruce
Singh was born in Australia long before my parents, sister and I arrived here in 1976, but I had sympathy
with the Aboriginal view of White Invasion, and still do. I had discovered many things about this invasion
that were brought to light by white and black academics in the 1970s, after abandonment of the White
Australia policy.

In Australia there is an academic discourse that refers to black and white historians, who have
rather different perspectives. There are also white historians who are accused to have a black arm-
band version of history. Not being a historian I have never ventured into this debate, but couldnt help
but be aware of it and influenced by it. By 2001, when I was assessed by Professor Singh, I had already
researched and written Eugenics and Genocide in the Modern World, which touched on, but didnt
explore the connection between the White Australia Policy, the atrocious treatment of Aboriginal
people and the Anglo-American eugenics movement. This same racist eugenics movement shaped the
development of academic psychiatry in Australia, being reinvented as psychiatric genetics after the
term eugenics fell from favour when the monstrous application of the science of breeding better
humans by the Nazis was exposed. Of course, psychiatric genetics is different in many respects to
eugenics, since the mechanism of inheritance in the form of the DNA molecule had not been discovered,
when Francis Galton wrote Hereditary Genius in which he claimed to have evidence that the Australian
Black is a further grade less intelligent to the African Black, who was two grades, on average, below
the White Man.

In 1998, when I was researching and writing Eugenics and Genocide in the Modern World, my partner
Sara, who was studying education at the University of Melbourne, found several books on eugenics in
the university library, including Hereditary Genius, and other books by Galton, as well as others by his
disciples, all of whom agreed there was there was an urgent need to implement policies of segregation
between Blacks and Whites, as well as positive and negative eugenic programs to preserve the purity of
the White Race. This racist science was inevitably embraced by a nation whose first Act of Parliament
was to restrict immigration in what has been since described as the introduction of the White Australia

Wikipedia presents the bare outline of the White Australia Policy, from official sources (

The term White Australia Policy comprises various historical policies that intentionally favoured
immigration to Australia from certain European countries, and especially from Britain. This was an
attempt of Australians to help shape their own identity after federation. It came to fruition in 1901 soon
after the Federation of Australia, and the policies were progressively dismantled between 1949 and
1973.[2] Australia's official First World War historian Charles Bean defined the early intentions of the
policy as "a vehement effort to maintain a high Western standard of economy, society and culture
(necessitating at that stage, however it might be camouflaged, the rigid exclusion of Oriental
Competition in the goldfields between British and Chinese miners, and labour union opposition to the
importation of Pacific Islanders into the sugar plantations of Queensland, reinforced the demand to
eliminate or minimize low wage immigration from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Soon after Australia
became a federation it passed the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901. The passage of this bill is
considered the commencement of the White Australia Policy as Australian government policy.
Subsequent acts further strengthened the policy up to the start of the Second World War.[4] These
policies effectively allowed for British migrants to be preferred over all others through the first four
decades of the 20th century. During the Second World War, Prime Minister John Curtin reinforced the
policy, saying "This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who
came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race."[2]

The policy was dismantled in stages by successive governments after the conclusion of the Second
World War, with the encouragement of first non-British, non-white immigration, allowing for a large
multi-ethnic post-war program of immigration. The Menzies and Holt Governments effectively
dismantled the policies between 1949 and 1966 and the Whitlam Government passed laws to ensure
that race would be totally disregarded as a component for immigration to Australia in 1973. In 1975 the
Whitlam Government passed the Racial Discrimination Act, which made racially-based selection criteria
unlawful. In the decades since, Australia has maintained largescale multi-ethnic immigration. Australia's
current Migration Program allows people from any country to apply to migrate to Australia, regardless
of their nationality, ethnicity, culture, religion, or language, provided that they meet the criteria set out
in law.[2]

Two references on the Wikipedia introduction to the White Australia policy are the National Museum
(reference [2]) and the Australian governments official historian whose name is, with some irony, Mr
Bean. Mr Bean is reference [3] I had never heard of him, but hes apparently been a very influential man.
Captain Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean (18 November 1879 30 August 1968), usually identified as
C.E.W. Bean, was an Australian schoolmaster, judge's associate, barrister, journalist, war correspondent
and historian.[1]

Bean is renowned as the editor of the 12-volume Official History of Australia in the War of 19141918.
Bean wrote Volumes I to VI himself, dealing with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at Gallipoli, France
and Belgium. Bean was instrumental in the establishment of the Australian War Memorial, and of the
creation and popularisation of the ANZAC legend.

An Oriental Orientation

The term "Orient" derives from the Latin word oriens meaning "east" (lit. "rising" < orior " rise"). The use
of the word for "rising" to refer to the east (where the sun rises) has analogs from many languages:
compare the terms "Levant" (< French levant "rising"), "Vostok" Russian: (< Russian voskhod
Russian: "sunrise"), "Anatolia" (< Greek anatole), "mizrahi" in Hebrew ("zriha" meaning sunrise),
"sharq" Arabic: <( Arabic yashriq " rise", shurq Arabic: " rising"), "shygys" Kazakh:
(< Kazakh shygu Kazakh: "come out"), Turkish: dou (< Turkish domak to be born; to rise),
Chinese: (pinyin: dng, a pictograph of the sun rising behind a tree[1]) and "The Land of the Rising
Sun" to refer to Japan. Also, many ancient temples, including pagan temples and the Jewish Temple in
Jerusalem, were built with their main entrances facing the East. This tradition was carried on in Christian
churches. To situate them in such a manner was to "orient" them in the proper direction. When
something was facing the correct direction, it was said to be in the proper orientation.[citation needed]

East In Sinhalese:

Professor Singh is an important academic psychiatrist in Australia. He is co-author of the main textbook
used to train medical students in Melbourne (and the state of Victoria) Foundations of Clinical Psychiatry
the first edition of which was published in 1994. This was the same year that the American Psychiatric
Association published the DSM IV, updating the DSM III-R (where the R stands for revised). Foundations
of Clinical Psychiatry, the basis for diagnostic labelling in Melbourne and Victoria that everyone who
graduated as a medical doctor was obliged to learn (if not accept) presents students with a choice of
The DSM-III-R Classification in Appendix B. or the ICD-10 Classification (abbreviated form) in
Appendix A. These are rival British and American classifications of mental disorders.

After an hour of two of grilling me, during which I became increasingly annoyed, though never rude, I
showed Professor Singh some diagrams I had drawn after analysing the annual reports of the Mental
Health Research Institute (MHRI), and its links with various organizations. I noted, for example, that the
President of the MHRI Board of Directors was Dr Ben Lochtenberg, who was also the boss of Orica,
previously the Australian branch of the British Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), which was a major
exporter of cyanide, explosives and detonators, around the world. I also noted various drug companies
and what their involvement was with the medical profession, mainly in the area of psychiatry, and how
various institutions, internationally, were connected with the Australian medical research institutions. I
did not explain the connections, I just drew them, to clarify my thinking on the serious matter of medical

Professor Singh noted these as evidence of what he called a paranoid personality, and was much more
interested in these than the scientifically valid material and thoughtful comments and criticism that he
mentions but does not specify, elaborate on or refute. He wrote:

Dr Senewiratne showed me a number of his publications and papers that he had written. Of
particular interest to me were a series of charts in which he drew lines connecting various
organisations that had links with each other. He was very much of the line of thinking that used
non-Aristotelian logic in the sense that he seemed to be suggesting that if A had a connection
with B and if B had a connection with C, then A must have a connection with C. He obviously
spent a lot of time looking for these connections and drawing them as the intricate diagram
demonstrated. He claimed however that this line of reasoning led him to hypotheses for which
he then attempted to look for further information to prove or disprove his theory. I found little
evidence of an open mind.

I think my mind, is, on the contrary, too open. I have been quite gullible at times, and fallen for scams,
been successfully deceived by news reports and other programs on TV, and conned by drug companies.
Gradually I have been becoming more critical and discriminating about what I believe, although I have
had lapses. I am guilty of many things, but not a closed mind, and no one but Professor Singh has ever
accused me of having one. Others have accused me of having delusions, and I have, but the fact that
these delusions have disappeared is proof that my mind is not closed. But what is a closed mind,
anyway? Minds do not open and close like boxes, black or otherwise.

A closed mind is a metaphor, but it is also a judgement. No one likes to be accused of having a closed
mind, and I was annoyed when I read that this is what Professor Singh thought of me. Impertinent,
maybe, closed-minded, no. As for Aristotelian and non-Aristotelian logic I didnt know the difference;
but didnt Aristotle logically surmise that we think with our heart rather than our brains, while his non-
Aristotelian colleagues had reasoned, correctly, that we think with our brains? Didnt Aristotle also
logically surmise that there were only four, or at most five, elements that corresponded to the four
humours that Galen and his followers believed for a thousand five hundred years in the West? So what if
I use non-Aristotelean logic?

Though he is one of the senior editors of Foundations of Clinical Psychiatry, only two of the chapters are
actually credited to Professor Singh, both of which have co-authors. The other chapters of the textbook
are written by various Melbourne academics from the University of Melbourne and Monash University.
The two chapters by Singh are Making Sense of the Psychiatric Patient and Failure to Cope and the
Adjustment Disorders. It is the first of these that has helped me make sense of Professor Singh,
because it tells me how different what he teaches is from what he does. And what he teaches is bad

According to the chapter on Making Sense of the Psychiatric Patient, careful attention should be paid to
taking a history and recording case notes. The length and emphasis of the personal history will vary
widely the aim is to build up a unique picture of the patient advises the professor. The following are
commonly recorded, although the list is not exhaustive: early development- complications of
pregnancy, feeding problems, achievement of milestones, childhood hyperactivity, bed wetting,
phobias, friendships and play, major childhood illnesses; school including academic performance,
disciplinary trouble, peer relationships and emotional problems; adolescence adjustment difficulties,
sexual behaviour, delinquency, relationships, drug use; occupation job record and satisfaction
ambition, and military service; sexual history attitudes, activities, past partners, sexual orientation,
problems with impotence or loss of libido; marital history courtship, relationship with spouse or de-
facto, current state of marriage, past marriages or divorces; children names, ages, relationship with
patient; habits alcohol, tobacco, drug use or abuse; forensic history past offences, convictions and
sentences, anti-social behaviour; leisure interests, hobbies; social network family, friends, supports.
This is just the personal history. Theres also the psychiatric history, the medical history (described
as a past medical history, as if history can be otherwise) and the family history which gives a wealth
of information about who a person is and his or her background. The family tree, which is described as
a geneogram, is a highly effective way of encapsulating a large body of information at a glance and is
therefore an essential part of the write-up.

What, you might ask, is all this personal information written down for? Well, its written as case notes
so that it can be presented at case conferences and discussed by the treating team. They discuss the
large amount of information come up with a probable diagnosis and a differential diagnosis, like they
do in other areas of medicine, and use it to decide on what treatment, out of various biological
treatments and psychological treatments, are best suited to the individual needs of the unique
patient, having taken a thorough history and conducted a Mental State Examination (MSE). This is the
paradigm is promoted by The Foundations of Clinical Psychiatry as the biopsychosocial approach,
which is credited to the American psychiatrist George Engel (1913-1999).

Professor Singh skipped most of the history taking, for obvious reasons. His job was not to treat me or
cure me, it was to judge me. He had to make judgements about my judgements, especially my medical
judgements. Thats why I had been sent to see him. There had been no adverse reports about my
medical conduct or judgements, but I had been declared mentally ill by his and my colleagues, and the
Medical Board wanted his expert opinion on the matter, as one of Melbournes most senior

This was his verdict:

Dr Senewiratne presented as a neat well-dressed man and he was obviously anxious about
seeing me. He presented his story with great clarity and exactness, he is obviously intelligent
and has clear views of the world and of multiple conspiracies he had identified about all
elements of his particular views. He was convinced that his perspective was right. In my view he
demonstrated the classical thinking of the paranoid personality in that he is constantly looking
for links between various aspects of his behaviour and of the world and then drawing those links
together to reach conclusions about the world, usually conspiratorial ones (see attachment of
chapter from the book Neurotic Style by David Shapiro, Basic Books, NY, 1965).

I had never heard of David Shapiro, but I didnt like the title of the book. What the heck is a neurotic
style? I was sent a copy of Professor Singhs 5-page report, but not the attachment he sent to the
Board. The closest to a paranoid personality in modern psychiatry is a paranoid personality disorder,
the label they have retrospectively applied to tyrants like Stalin.

My book, which Bruce Singh pathologised after scan-reading bits of it, was titled The Politics of
Schizophrenia. If you read the following profile from the University of Sydney Medical School you may
get an idea of the politics I was exploring in the years before I was formally assessed by him.


Bruce Singh became Foundation Chair of Psychological Medicine at Monash University and the Royal
Park and Alfred Hospitals in Melbourne in 1984.

Born in Sydney in 1946, Bruce studied Medicine at the University of Sydney. After graduating in 1968, he
completed his Residency at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, continuing as a Medical Registrar and
Psychiatric Registrar until 1975. He then became a National Health and Medical Research Council
(NHMRC) Travelling Fellow in the Clinical Sciences and from 1975 to 1978, was based at the University of
Rochester, New York, the Institute of Psychiatry and Maudsley Hospital in London, and at the University
of Sydney.

In 1978, Bruce was appointed Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle where he
remained until 1984, when he became Foundation Chair of Psychological Medicine at Monash University
and the Royal Park and Alfred Hospitals in Melbourne. In subsequent years, Bruce worked as Co-Director
of the Master of Psychological Medicine program at Monash University, also playing a role in the
development if the new medical curriculum at the University of Newcastle.

In 1991, he took up an appointment as the second Cato Professor of Psychiatry at the University of
Melbourne. In this role, Bruce is Head of the Department of Psychiatry and has considerably expanded
the academic activities of the Department, which extend across three Clinical Schools and ORYGEN
Youth Health, with a strong emphasis on links with the public psychiatric service system. Bruce has
developed Professorial positions at both the major private psychiatric hospitals in Melbourne, the
Melbourne Clinic and the Albert Road Clinic, and additional Professorial appointments at Barwon Health
and in the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health.

Bruce directs the Master of Medicine (Psychiatry) Program and the Graduate Diploma of Mental Health
Sciences, and is Chair of the Human Mind and Behaviour stream of the new undergraduate curriculum
at the University of Melbourne. In 1996, he was appointed Associate Dean (International), a position
which he still holds, responsible for international matters in the Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry and
Health Sciences, including the establishment of the Australian International Health Institute of the
University of Melbourne. As Assistant Dean from 1997 to 2000, he was responsible for the North
Western Health Care Network.

The main thrust of Bruces research activities has been in the area of schizophrenia, and his major
achievement, together with D Copolov, Director of the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria, was
the establishment of the NHMRC Schizophrenia Research Unit, which he co-directed from 1988 to 1996.
His other areas of research include early onset psychosis, psychiatric rehabilitation, psychiatric aspects
of disasters, rehabilitation in physical illness, and care-giving in the community.
Throughout his career, Bruce has been a Consultant for both the state and federal governments: He was
Consultant to the Commonwealth Department of Health for Evaluation of New Drugs from 1982 to
1990, and Chief Policy Adviser for the Office of Psychiatric Services in the Health Department of Victoria
from 1988 to 1992, active in developing the first National Mental Health Policy. He was Senior Medical
Adviser to the Mental Health Branch of the Department of Human Services in Victoria from 2001 to
2004. Bruce was a Member of the Grants Committee of the NHMRC from 1991 to 1996 and has been a
Member of and Chairman of Regional Grants Interviewing Committees on many occasions. He is an
active Member of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and was a Censor from
198088. He was Chairman of the Fellowships Board and Committee for Examinations and Member of
the College Executive from 1988 to 1994. He served on the Community and Research Committees of the
Victorian Health Promotion Foundation from its inception in 1990 until 2000.

Bruce was Director of Psychiatric Services at the Royal Melbourne Hospital until 1995, when he was
appointed Clinical Director of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Clinical Business Unit, which
incorporated the Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital. In 1996, Bruce became Clinical Director of North
Western Mental Health, comprising Adult, Aged and Adolescent Mental Health Programs, which service
a population of one million people in the northwest of Melbourne.

Bruce has written extensively on Psychiatry, having published more than 120 papers and co-edited five
books: The Foundations of Clinical Psychiatry Textbook (published 1994 and revised in 2001),
Understanding Troubled Minds (1997), Family Caregiver (1998), and Mental Health in Australia (2001).

According to the impressive blurb, Professor Singh has been researching schizophrenia, with his major
achievement, together with David Copalov, being the establishment of the NHMRC Schizophrenia
Research Unit which he directed till 1996. I knew he was involved in this, do I didnt know the details
and asked him about it, after he had indicated that the interview was over, and he had all the
information he needed. He didnt tell me what his judgement was; for that I had to wait for the Board to
send me a copy of the report.

He mentioned my query his report:

As he left the room Dr Senewiratne enquired if I was still involved with the NH&MRC. I replied
that I was not, this was because I was aware that the NH&MRC figures repeatedly in his theories
of conspiracy and corruption.

Since then, Professor Singh has been awarded an Order of Australia (AO),


Foundations of clinical psychiatry (Vietnamese language edition). Melbourne University Press. 2001
Several chapters in Mental health in Australia published by Oxford University Press. 2001

Citation for the Award of Honorary Doctor of Medical Science

Professor Emeritus Bruce S Singh AM

Professor Emeritus Bruce Singh arrived at the University of Melbourne in

1991 to take up the Cato Chair of Psychiatry with an already impressive

reputation in the teaching, research and practice of psychiatric medicine that

included seven years as Professor of Psychological Medicine at Monash

University. He was involved in the implementation of the first medical problem

based learning curriculum while at the University of Newcastle in the late

1970s and early 80s which established a synthesis of teaching and learning

and clinical practice that has infused subsequent developments in medical

education across the country.

His expansion of the University of Melbourne Department of Psychiatry, as

Cato Chair, and leadership of the discipline in Australia, have been signally

important to the development of sub-specialty research programs and

improved services for psychiatric patients. These have included developing

three professorial positions at major private Melbourne psychiatric hospitals

and eight additional professorial appointments to underpin important research

in areas such as post-traumatic health, neuropsychiatry, old age psychiatry

and womens mental health. With an enviable record of securing grants and

funding for research, Bruce Singhs research contributions, particularly into

schizophrenia, have earned him an eminent international reputation. His role,

with Professor David Copolov, in the establishment of the NHMRC

Schizophrenia Research Unit, laid the foundation for the creation of ORYGEN
Research Centre and Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre.

Wide recognition from governments, professional associations and community

organisations for Bruce Singhs outstanding contributions to mental health

policy, research and practice, include the Centenary Medal of Federation and

Membership of the Order of Australia, the 25th Anniversary Medal from the

Federation of Ethnic Communities, the Indo Australasian Psychiatric

Association Award and the Victorian Public Healthcare Award, and

international recognition from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) and the

American Psychiatric Association.

Bruce Singhs governance and policy expertise has been long sought by

governments, pharmaceutical companies and professional associations,

either as a consultant or through committee membership or chairmanship. He

has been a consultant to the Medical Board of Victoria since 1984 and chaired

many NHMRC regional grants interview committees. The development of

mental health policy for Victoria, and the creation of 30 academic positions in

multiple higher education institutions across Melbourne, owes much to his

many years as Chief Policy Advisor on Mental Health to the Victorian

Department of Human Services and to the Minister for Health.

The co-editor of five books, he is currently working on a history of psychiatry in Victoria with historian
Ann WestmoreHe also acts a reviewer for a wide range of international journals.

Bruce Singhs main collaborator in his research into schizophrenia was Professor David Copalov, who I
have never met, but is a big name in schizophrenia in Melbourne. Copalov directed the Mental Health
Research Institute, originally located at the Royal Park Hospital in Parkville, where I was first locked up,
in 1995. I have never been to the MHRI, but I obtained copies of the institutes annual reports from 1997
to 2001, on which I based my analysis of Australian schizophrenia research in the Politics of
Schizophrenia. Copalov was, in addition to his role as institute director, a ministerial advisor on mental
health and a supposed expert on cannabis, psychosis and schizophrenia. In 1991 the MHRI had
published Schizophrenia research in Australia : a present state review, edited by David Copolov and
Bruce Singh. 1997 MHRI was organized in several divisions in which different aspects of mental health
were researched - the applied schizophrenia division, the molecular schizophrenia division, and the
Alzheimers Disease Division. Of course, these are not aspects of mental health. They are specific mental
illnesses relatively rare ones when it comes to the mental problems of Victorians; schizophrenia is said
to affect about 1% of the population, and though Alzheimers Disease is a bigger problem, most people
do not ever develop dementia (as opposed to the normal forgetfulness of old age).

The fact that the MHRI focused on schizophrenia and Alzheimers Disease was to do with funding and
grants. In his Directors Report Copalov boasted that performance in competitive grant rounds was
strong, with success rates well above the national average. Who keeps tabs of the national average in
grant rounds, other than an administrator who is keen to attract more funds for his organization?
Copalov also boasts that publication rates remained very good, with many papers appearing in pre-
eminent journals and that the results of recent research attracted great interest not only in specialist
research circles but also in the media. Wow! The media?!


The Mental Health Research Institute (MHRI) was founded in 1956 as part of the Victorian Hygiene
Department. The Institute then specialised in common mental disorders in the community, with a focus
on risk factors, prevention and appropriate treatment.

The building was located close to the original Royal Park Hospital in Parkville, one of Victorias busiest


A working party established in 1983 recommended that a major expansion and re-organisation take
place. This resulted in a new emphasis on neuroscience and the creation of an independent organization
housed in a modern neuroscientific research centre completed in 1994 at a cost of $5.5 million.

The Institute was incorporated in 1987, and has since grown rapidly from an initial staff of three to over
one hundred.

The Institute Today

Today, the Mental Health Research Institute (MHRI) is a premier psychiatric research organisation. The
Institute is fully accredited as a medical research institute by the National Health and Medical Research
Council. It attracts competitive research funds and is internationally recognised for its achievements.
The Institute is formally affiliated with the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Health and Monash

Using laboratory and clinical research, scientists at MHRI study the normal and abnormal brain to better
understand cognition and behaviour.

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With your help, MHRI can help make a brighter future for all Australians.


Updates in your Inbox

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Professor Colin Masters

Position: Executive Director, Mental Health Research Institute and

Laureate Professor, University of Melbourne

E: c.masters(at)

T: +61 3 9035 6650 / +61 3 9389 2905

Campus: Kenneth Myer Building, Level 5, Royal Parade (corner Genetics Lane), The University of
Melbourne, Parkville Vic 3010

Courier: As above (Enter through Gate 11)

Research Interests:
Alzheimer's disease: Structure, function and processing of the amyloid precursor protein of Alzheimer's
disease. Identifying genetic and environmental factors relevant to the metabolism of the amyloid
precursor protein and the biogenesis of amyloid. Therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer's disease based
on this knowledge.

Prion diseases: including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease

Techniques Used:

Current studies on Alzheimer's disease are now focused on identifying the pathways through which
environmental and genetic factors can operate to cause this disease. In collaboration with the
pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology enterprises, a multidisciplinary approach is now directed at
identifying lead compounds which can inhibit the production or aggregation of amyloid in the
Alzheimer's disease brain: a new class of protease inhibitors has been identified which has very
promising activity in vitro and will be evaluated in human trials. Commercial development of compounds
which are directed at the toxicity of the A-beta amyloid has commenced. A phase II clinical trial of a
metal chelating compound aimed at mobilizing the amyloid A-beta from the Alzheimer's disease brain
has also been completed following the demonstration of efficacy of this compound in a transgenic
mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

Knowledge gained from the Alzheimer's disease arena is being transferred to Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease/prion diseases, Parkinson's disease, and other related degenerations.

Bibliography (1968-2011)

Relevant Publications:

(Top 10 cited publications, updated June 2010)

Kang J, Lemaire H-G, Unterbeck A, Salbaum MJ, Masters CL, Grzeschik K-H, Multhaup G, Beyreuther K,
Mller-Hill B. The precursor of Alzheimer's disease amyloid A4 protein resembles a cell surface receptor.
Nature 1987; 325:733-736. (3121 citations)
Masters CL, Simms G, Weinman NA, McDonald BL, Multhaup G, Beyreuther K. Amyloid plaque core
protein in Alzheimer disease and Down syndrome. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 1985; 82:4245-4249. (2203

Weidemann A, Knig G, Bunke D, Fischer P, Salbaum JM, Masters CL, Beyreuther K. Identification,
biogenesis, and localization of precursors of Alzheimer's disease A4 amyloid protein. Cell 1989; 57:115-
126. (980 citations)

Masters CL, Multhaup G, Simms G, Pottgiesser J, Martins RN, Beyreuther K. Neuronal origin of a cerebral
amyloid: neurofibrillary tangles of Alzheimer's disease contain the same protein as the amyloid of
plaque cores and blood vessels. EMBO J 1985; 4:2757-2763. (695 citations)

Bush AI, Pettingell WH, Multhaup G, D. Paradis M, Vonsattel J-P, Gusella JF, Beyreuther K, Masters CL,
Tanzi RE. Rapid induction of Alzheimer A amyloid formation by zinc. Science 1994; 265:1464-1467. (608

McLean CA, Cherny RA, Fraser FW, Fuller SJ, Smith MJ, Beyreuther K, Bush AI, Masters CL. Soluble pool
of A as a determinant of severity of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease. Ann Neurol 1999;
46:860-866. (580 citations)

Cherny RA, Atwood CS, Xilinas ME, Gray DN, Jones WD, McLean CA, Barnham KJ, Volitakis I, Fraser FW,
Kim YS, Huang X, Goldstein LE, Moir RD, Lim JT, Beyreuther K, Zheng H, Tanzi RE, Masters CL, Bush AI.
Treatment with a copper-zinc chelator markedly and rapidly inhibits -amyloid accumulation in
Alzheimer's disease transgenic mice. Neuron 2001, 30:665-676 [and see Previews: Gouras GK, Beal MF.
Metal chelator decreases Alzheimer -amyloid plaques. Neuron 2001; 30:641-642]. (498 citations)

Koo EH, Sisodia SS, Archer DR, Martin LJ, Weidemann A, Beyreuther K, Fischer P, Masters CL, Price DL.
Precursor of amyloid protein in Alzheimer disease undergoes fast anterograde axonal transport. Proc
Natl Acad Sci USA 1990; 87:1561-1565. (498 citations)
Hilbich C, Kisters-Woike B, Reed J, Masters CL, Beyreuther K. Aggregation and secondary structure of
synthetic amyloid A4 peptides of Alzheimers disease. J Mol Biol 1991; 218:149-163. (466 citations)

Masters CL, Harris JO, Gajdusek DC, Gibbs CJ Jr, Bernoulli C, Asher DM. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease:
patterns of worldwide occurrence and the significance of familial and sporadic clustering. Ann Neurol
1979; 5:177-188. (447 citations)

Laureate Professor Colin L. Masters CV

The Melbourne Brain Centre consists of a Centre for Translational Research at the Royal Melbourne
Hospital, and two new purpose built buildings at The University of Melbournes Parkville campus and
the other at Austin hospital in Heidelberg..

The Mental Health Research Institute have co-located in the new buildings with researchers from the
University of Melbourne, and the Florey Neuroscience Institutes.

Researchers working at the centre will investigate a broad range of conditions affecting the brain,
including multiple sclerosis, stroke, Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, trauma, depression,
schizophrenia, anxiety, epilepsy and motor neuron disease.

Over 700 scientists will work side-by-side in state-of-the-art laboratories next to world class clinical
facilities. This power-house of intellectual capacity and research strength will enable the development of
more effective diagnostic tools, treatments and ultimately cures for brain and mind disorders.

The size and research strength of the group will position the Melbourne Brain Centre as one of the top
five centres for brain research internationally, alongside the Institutes for Neurology and Psychiatry
(UK), the Janelia Farm at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (USA) and the Riken Brain Science
Institute (Japan).

The Centre will play a key role in attracting leading scientists to come to Australia or retaining talented
Australian researchers who might have otherwise moved or stayed overseas.
Funding for the building project was largely provided by the Federal government, the Victorian State
Government, through the Department of Innovation, Industry & Regional Development and the
University of Melbourne.

David Copalov and MHRI

Copalov wrote the chapter on biological therapies in Foundations of Clinical Psychiatry

As Pro Vice-Chancellor (Major Campuses and Student Engagement), Professor Copolov is responsible for
providing Senior Management oversight of:

student experience activities, including issues at the interface between the University and student

central leadership programs, including the Vice-Chancellors Ancora Imparo Leadership Program and
Monash Minds

Caulfield and Clayton campuses

the University's Diversity Agenda.

He also provides strategic, policy and operational input in relation to capital development, mental health
policies and a variety of cross-portfolio issues that arise within both the Office of the Vice Chancellor and
the Office of the Chief Operating Officer.
Professional background

Before joining the University full-time in 2004, he was the Executive Director of the Mental Health
Research Institute of Victoria - a position he held for 19 years

He is a Professor of Psychiatry and Honorary Professor of Physiology at Monash and Professorial Fellow
in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne. He is a Director on the Board of the
Royal Womens Hospital and a Director of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

He is a passionate advocate for a reversal of the dehospitalisation which has taken place in the public
mental health sector.

He has held several advisory appointments to federal and state governments, including 12 years as a
member of the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Committee on Mental Health and eight years as the
psychiatric expert on the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee.

Academic interests

Professor Copolov trained in psychiatry and internal medicine and received his PhD in the neurobiology
of psychiatric disorders.

His research interests lie in schizophrenia, particularly in understanding why people suffering from the
condition hear distressing voices and how they can be better helped to cope with this symptom.

He has published more than 220 papers. In 2011 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for
contributions to higher education, medical research and professional organisations.
A passionate advocate for a reversal of dehospitalization??

From Yarra Bend to the Orygen Research Program

Conspiracy theories and the Dark Side of Psychiatry

Orygen program

Orygen Youth Health (OYH) is a world-leading youth mental health program based in Melbourne,
Australia. OYH has two main components: a specialised youth mental health clinical service; and an
integrated training and communications program.

Orygen Youth Health is part of the public mental health system in Melbourne, Australia, and sees young
people aged 15 to 25, with a focus on early intervention and youth specific approaches. There is a close
connection with Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.

Our innovative clinical program is comprised of three parts: Acute Services, Continuing Care, and
Psychosocial Recovery. Multidisciplinary teams composed of psychiatrists and mental health clinicians
deliver individually tailored services such as mental health assessment and care, crisis management,
psychotherapy, medication, family support, inpatient care, group work, and vocational and educational
assistance. Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program treats around 450 clients per annum.

Our training and communications program provides training and resources to improve the
understanding of mental health issues in young people and to promote the capacity of services and the
general public in supporting young people. We work with a variety of organisations including health
services, schools, drug and alcohol services, and community groups within our catchment area.
The work of OYH will be important to you if:

You are a young person aged 15 25 with mental health issues and living in the western or north
western area of Melbourne

You are a family member or carer for a young person aged 1525 with mental health issues and living in
the western or north western area of Melbourne

You are a service provider working with and supporting young people with mental health issues

You want to have access to the latest information and training in relation to youth mental health

Norman James and his version of the history of psychiatry.

Conspiracy theories, theories about conspiracies and theories about possible or probable
conspiracies.Theories are not beliefs.

Conspiracy theories, paranoid delusions and paranoia. And their resolution through talk therapies and

Black boxes, black men, black magic and black humour.

In the 1970s I was exposed to the American Black civil rights movement through Mohammed Ali, the
boxing icon who boasted that he could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. I admired his fancy
footwork and his cocky attitude, though I shared neither, and was not keen on my fathers suggestion
that I take up boxing as a sport. I didnt want to be hit repeatedly in the head by bigger boys; being the
shortest boy in the class was bad enough as it is. Mohammed Ali was not short, like me, but he was
black like me and all the other boys in my class in Trinity. Thats what we called our school Trinity.
Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka and around the world, (in the so-called diaspora) know that Trinity means
Trinity College, a school founded by the British in the medieval city that the British named Kandy. It was
in Kandy that I heard that the boxer my parents had admired as Cassius Clay had converted to Islam and
taken the Muslim name of Mohammed Ali.

My enthusiasm for Mohammed Ali, despite my relative indifference towards boxing, which was not a
sport at Trinity, was because of his reputation, and hero-worship of the boxing superstar by my
classmates, most of whom were Muslim. I was mystified as to why a black American man would convert
from Christianity to Islam, since I saw Islam as the religion of my Muslim classmates, who were not any
more black or white than their Christian, Buddhist and Hindu peers. I was taken with his pointing out, in
a snippet that I saw in a cinema, of the fact that black is equated with evil and that this is a sign of white
oppression. I now think the argument is ridiculous; it is more likely that black is associated with evil, in
many cultures, because of the absence of light and the darkness and dangers of the night, as well as the
contrast between darkness and illumination physical and mental.

The black civil rights movement, which began in the USA for obvious reasons, did have relevance to Sri
Lanka, though this relevance has not been explored, since the focus has been on issues of race and
religion, tied to Sinhalese and Tamil nationalism. But skin colour prejudice and discrimination against
black people is deeply embedded in Sri Lankan and Indian culture. It is rarely mentioned or discussed,
and may be more of a problem in India than in Sri Lanka, but I was quite aware of it when I was a child,
not so much from my friends, who were of all shades of brown, from the very fair to the very dark, but
from my family, and especially my maternal and paternal grandmothers.

The name Kandy is an Anglicisation of the Sinhalese word for mountains . This word cannot be
transliterated exactly into English letters, but the British pronounced Kandy the same way that they
pronounced the American word for lollies candy (which includes what we in Australia call chockies and
the British, more properly, call chocolates). Since colonial days and the British renaming of their capital
city (Maha nuwara, pronounced [mahanur]) the Kandyans have developed a new
identity as Kandyans, though this identity was constructed on earlier foundations. I didnt learn anything
about these foundations when I was at Trinity, though the evidence of them was clearly evident every
time I walked past the Dalada Maligawa what the British called the Temple of the Tooth. This medieval
temple is the most recent home to the Tooth Relic, which is believed, by some, to be the actual tooth of
the Buddha. I walked past the temple on the way home every day for many years, but never knew how
old it was, or whether the golden casket I once saw actually contained the Buddhas tooth. I still dont
know about the tooth, but do know much more about the history of Sri Lanka now, ironically, much
more than when I was actually living there.

; Tamil: , pronounced [kai])

Twenty years ago, in 1995, I was thirty four years old. I was working as a GP in my own suburban general
practice in Melbourne, and the proud father of a two-year-old daughter, who took up most of my time,
when I wasnt at work. I was also trying to establish a parallel career in music, having moved to
Melbourne from Brisbane in 1988 more in search of musical opportunities than medical opportunities.
The main reason I moved to Melbourne was that I had fallen in love with Sue, the mother of my two-
year-old daughter, Ruby. Sue, who I met when I was a medical student when I did an elective term in the
remote mining town of Mt Isa back in 1981, had decided to move to Melbourne to study Japanese at
Monash University. She was already a nurse, which is how I happened to meet her; she was studying
nursing at the Mt Isa Base Hospital when I, as a fifth year medical student was sent to learn about
medicine from a Sri Lankan doctor who I knew as Kanaks who was known to his patients and
colleagues in at the Mt Isa Hospital as Dr K, because they were quite unable to pronounce his full
surname - Kanagarajah. Kanaks was an old friend of my father, and had worked with him in the Kandy
Hospital in Sri Lanka in the 1970s, when they were both medical lecturers at the University of

I had married Sue in 1991 in a civil ceremony held at my parents house in Brisbane, which was
interrupted by a violent thunderstorm. This thunderstorm was welcome though, since it broke a drought
that was affecting Queensland at the time. Or so I was told, by my mother.

If, having been told that the thunderstorm that came upon our wedding broke the drought, I concluded
that the drought broke because of our wedding, this would be a delusion. It would not make me mad,
but it is a crazy belief. It is irrational, as well as illogical. It would be regarded as a sign of psychosis by
modern psychiatry. I dont have such a delusion, and never have. I have, however had other delusions,
which I have decided to share with you, in the hope that they will be helpful and enlightening to others.
Some will not seem to you like delusions, because you hold them to be true yourself. One persons
delusion is anothers deep and ancient wisdom or mystical truth.

Indra (/ndr/), also known as akra in the Vedas, is the leader of the Devas and the lord of
Svargaloka or heaven in Hinduism. He is the deva of rain and thunderstorms.[1] He wields a lightning
thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata. Indra is the most
important deity worshiped by the Rigvedic tribes and is the son of Dyaus and the goddess Savasi.

The name of Indra (Indara) is also mentioned among the gods of the Mitanni, a Hurrian-speaking people
who ruled northern Syria from ca.1500BC-1300BC.[5]

In Hinduism, Svarga (or Swarga) (Sanskrit: ), also known as Swarga Loka, is any of the seven
loka or planes in Hindu cosmology, which sequentially are Bhu loka (Prithvi Loka, Earth), Bhuvar loka,
Swarga loka, Mahar loka, Jana loka, Tapa loka, and the highest, Satyaloka (Brahmaloka).[1] It is a set of
heavenly worlds located on and above Mt. Meru. It is a heaven where the righteous live in a paradise
before their next incarnation. During each pralaya, the great dissolution, the first three realms, Bhu loka
(Earth), Bhuvar loka, Swarga loka, are destroyed. Below the seven upper realms lie seven lower realms,
of Patala, the underworld and netherworld.[1] B. K. Chaturvedi (2004)

The entry on Indra in the online Encyclopaedia Britannica is written by an acknowledged American
expert on Indology and the Sanskrit language, Professor Wendy Doniger, who is a controversial figure in
India. The controversy is due to her books On Hinduism (2014) and The Hindus an alternative history
(2009). which were withdrawn from sale by Penguin amidst complaints that her books insulted Hindus
and Hinduism.

The Motto of the History of Hinduism: Clearly the twothe animals of the terrain and the animals of
the mindare intimately connected, and both are essential to our understanding of Hinduism. If the
motto of Watergate was Follow the money, the motto of the history of Hinduism could well be
Follow the monkey. Or, more often, Follow the horse. Three animalshorses, dogs, and cowsare
particularly charismatic players in the drama of Hinduism. (Page 39)

Indra, in Hindu mythology, the king of the gods. He is one of the main gods of the Rigveda and
is the Indo-European cousin of the German Wotan, Norse Odin, Greek Zeus, and Roman Jupiter.

In early religious texts, Indra plays a variety of roles. As king, he leads cattle raids against the
dasas, or dasyus, native inhabitants of the lands over which his people range. He brings rain as
god of the thunderbolt, and he is the great warrior who conquers the anti-gods (asuras). He also
defeats innumerable human and superhuman enemies, most famously the dragon Vritra, a
leader of the dasas and a demon of drought. Vritra is accused as a dragon of hoarding the
waters and the rains, as a dasa of stealing cows, and as an anti-god of hiding the Sun. Indra is
strengthened for those feats by drinks of the elixir of immortality, the soma, which priests offer
to him in the sacrifice. Among his allies are the Rudras (or Maruts), who ride the clouds and
direct storms. Indra is sometimes referred to as the thousand-eyed.

In later Hinduism, Indra is no longer worshipped but plays the important mythological roles of
god of rain, regent of the heavens, and guardian of the east. Later texts note that break in the
worship of Indra. In the Mahabharata, Indra fathers the great hero Arjuna and tries in vain to
prevent the god of fire, Agni, from burning a great forest. In the Puranas, ancient collections of
Hindu myths and legends, Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, persuades the cowherds of Gokula (or
Vraja, modern Gokul) to stop their worship of Indra. Enraged, Indra sends down torrents of rain,
but Krishna lifts Mount Govardhana on his fingertip and gives the people shelter under it for
seven days until Indra relents and pays him homage.

In painting and sculpture, Indra is often depicted riding his white elephant, Airavata. Indra also
plays a part in the Jain and Buddhist mythology of India. When Mahavira, the Jain saviour and
reformer, cuts off his hair to signify his renunciation of the world, Indra, as king of the gods,
receives the hair into his hands. Buddhist mythology sometimes mocks Indra and sometimes
portrays him as a mere figurehead.

Wendy Doniger

Does Wendy Doniger know what shes talking about? Is she in touch with reality? Is Indra real? And if
not, does that mean that hundreds of millions of Indians are suffering from delusions? What about the
other Hindu gods? Is all belief in God and gods, angels and demons, devas and asuras delusional?

Ill check who Wendy Doniger is.

having been born at the St Pancras Hospital in London on the 22nd of September, 1960.

Im mad, and I think Ive got good reason. Im mad about lots of things. Sometimes I show that Im mad,
mostly I dont. Most of the time Im not mad, but that doesnt mean Im necessarily sane. It is I who
makes the judgement, in my own mind, about what is mad and what is sane, though science does come
into it. Or so I hope.

Psychiatrists never call people mad. They prefer the term mentally ill, which they somehow think is
less stigmatising than calling someone mad. It is not, and I detest being regarded as mentally ill. The
label of mental illness is far more stigmatising than the label of madness; madness has been cool
since the British ska band proudly adopted the name Madness in the 1970s.

I listened to Madness when I was a teenager, growing up in Brisbane in Australia, where the bands
catchy pop hits were frequently on TV. Madness was not my favourite band of the time, but I was
strongly influenced, in my musical taste, by British ska music, long before I discovered its Jamaican
reggae roots and the music of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. For some months my favourite band was
UB40, which took its name from unemployment benefit forms used in Thatcherite Britain, and I loved
The Beats anthem Stand Down Margaret about the conservative British Prime Minister. I was on the
side of the musicians, though I didnt know much about British politics or Margaret Thatcher. I fell in
love with the beat and the groove, back in the day when the beat was actually generated from vinyl
grooves. Exactly how it did so was a mystery to me, though not to those with more knowledge of
science, physics and technology. These were my cultural influences, much more than European and
American philosophy or literature.

I was surprised to read, on Wikipedia, that Madness are still around:

Madness are an English ska band from Camden Town, London, that formed in 1976. One of the
most prominent bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s 2 Tone ska revival, they continue to
perform with their most recognised line-up of seven members. Madness achieved most of their
success in the early to mid-1980s. Both Madness and UB40 spent 214 weeks on the UK singles
charts over the course of the decade, holding the record for most weeks spent by a group in the
1980s UK singles charts. However, Madness achieved this in a shorter time period (19801986).
Madness have had 15 singles reach the UK top ten, one UK number one single ("House of Fun")
and two number ones in Ireland, "House of Fun" and "Wings of a Dove".

Though I remain officially mad, a few months ago the Mormon psychiatrist who had been appointed to
treat me kindly agreed to stop ordering injections of a drug that had the effect of sterilizing me, and
dulling my creativity. The official label for my madness, as documented in the case notes and confirmed
by the Mental Health Review Tribunal, is Psychotic Disorder NOS. NOS stands for Not Otherwise

I had been aware of the label of Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, but not Psychotic
Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, both sharing the abbreviation of PD-NOS. I assumed that the two
labels were similar in that not otherwise specified meant that it was not otherwise specified in the
DSM the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric
Association (APA an acronym it confusing shares with the American Psychological Association).
Psychotic Disorder NOS is not elsewhere specified in the DSM, which does specify all the known and
accepted types of psychosis, such as schizophrenia, mania and drug-induced psychosis.

According to the website:

Psychotic disorder NOS Not Otherwise Specified- is a mental illness which does not fall under
any specific mental illness (because it lacks specific illness traits) and does not have a specific
way of diagnosis. Its diagnosis is based on personal experiences reports or what other people-
around the patient- report as the behaviour of the ill person. Psychosis is a mental illness which
cause people to change personality, behaviour and have mental malfunctions- especially loss of
sense of reality-. Psychotic disorders, hence, are those that affect cognitive functions; altering
personality and behaviour.

Psychotic is the adjective of the noun psychosis, which is generally translated these days as a mental
state when someone is out of touch with reality. This raises the obvious question as to how reality is
defined, and by whom. Is reality what scientists say it is or what psychiatrists say it is? Is reality defined
by consensus opinion, or by what the media tells us, or by religious texts? Is the best judge of reality
science and the best way of ascertaining reality the scientific method? How well does psychiatry match
up to the standards of scientific inquiry and the scientific method? How well do psychiatrists match up
to the ideal standards of psychiatry? These are some of the questions I have been pondering about in
the back of my mind for many years, and are crystallising while I write. The crystals are disjointed, but
Im hoping to bring them together at some point.

With various mental illness labels, some far worse than Psychotic Disorder-NOS, dangling, like the
mythical sword of Damocles, over my head, I have to be careful about what I write. That is, if I intend to
publish it. In the privacy of my own home, on pieces of paper, I can write what I want, and I do. But
publishing something is different. It becomes public, and it is intended for people to read what I have
written. I am therefore writing to a reader, or, hopefully, readers. Yet I am not, as you may have
gathered by now, a writer. My training was as a doctor which I was told, many years ago, means
teacher rather than anything to do with healing or health. The word doctor was adopted by Western
doctors from their Greek academic roots, but I was told little about these roots when I studied Western
medicine in the Antipodes.

The University of Queensland did not educate doctors about the roots of Western medicine, but there
are many sources that I could have turned to in order to critically examine the foundations on which my
education was built. I didnt do this for many years, because I simply did not think to. The Age of the
Internet has made such investigation easier for isolated madmen such as myself who do not have the
means to travel to Greece or the great museums and libraries in England, Europe and the USA that
contain the primary sources for finding out ancient Greek philosophy, medicine and science.

With the miracle of the Internet I have discovered that psychosis is another medical term that assumed
a new meaning when the ancient Greek philosophical roots were synthesised to create New Latin
medical terms, in the 19th century. The Greek psyche meaning soul (and different to phren or mind)
was combined as a prefix with the suffix -osis, meaning process. Osis was transferred to Latin from
Greek, and refers to any process, not necessarily a pathological one. Hence we have, in biology,
metamorphosis, symbiosis and osmosis, which do not signify pathology, but are important factors in
health of organisms. In psychiatry, a branch of medicine, psychosis is not interpreted as a process of
the soul, as the Greek roots translate, but rather the state of being out of touch with reality which is
presumed to be a disease state caused by a disease process. The problem is, despite billions of
dollars being spent and millions of lab rats sacrificed, the scientific establishment has not been able to
discover exactly what these disease states and diseases processes actually are.

Osis Greek

Schizophrenia is a modern Latin term derived from Greek roots skhizein, meaning split, and phren,
meaning mind. In was coined in 1908 by a Swiss psychiatrist, working at the Burgholzli clinic, psychiatric
hospital associated with the University of Zurich, by the name of Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939). Bleuler was
an eminent psychiatry professor and a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and the father of
psychiatric classification, Professor Emil Kraepelin of the University of Heidelberg.
Wikipedia introduces Kraepelin as rather more than the father of psychiatric classification, quoting the
British psychologist Hans Eysenck (1916 -1997) who was German by birth but was Professor of
Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London (a constituent college of the federal
University of London), from 1955 to 1983:

Emil Kraepelin (15 February 1856 7 October 1926) was a German psychiatrist. H.J. Eysenck's
Encyclopedia of Psychology identifies him as the founder of modern scientific psychiatry, as well
as of psychopharmacology and psychiatric genetics. Kraepelin believed the chief origin of
psychiatric disease to be biological and genetic malfunction. His theories dominated psychiatry
at the start of the twentieth century and, despite the later psychodynamic influence of Sigmund
Freud and his disciples, enjoyed a revival at century's end.

whose ideas he generally supported, though he resigned from the International Psychoanalytic
Association in 1911, writing to Freud that "this 'all or nothing' is in my opinion necessary for religious
communities and useful for political parties...but for science I consider it harmful".

The Swiss psychiatrist, Eugen Bleuler, coined the term, "schizophrenia" in 1911. He was also the first to
describe the symptoms as "positive" or "negative." Bleuler changed the name to schizophrenia as it was
obvious that Krapelin's name was misleading as the illness was not a dementia (it did not always lead to
mental deterioration) and could sometimes occur late as well as early in life.

The word "schizophrenia" comes from the Greek roots schizo (split) and phrene (mind) to describe the
fragmented thinking of people with the disorder. His term was not meant to convey the idea of split or
multiple personality, a common misunderstanding by the public at large. Since Bleuler's time, the
definition of schizophrenia has continued to change, as scientists attempt to more accurately delineate
the different types of mental diseases. Without knowing the exact causes of these diseases, scientists
can only base their classifications on the observation that some symptoms tend to occur together.

Both Bleuler and Kraepelin subdivided schizophrenia into categories, based on prominent symptoms
and prognoses. Over the years, those working in this field have continued to attempt to classify types of
schizophrenia. Five types were delineated in the DSM-III: disorganized, catatonic, paranoid, residual, and
undifferentiated. The first three categories were originally proposed by Kraepelin.

These classifications, while still employed in DSM-IV, have not shown to be helpful in predicting
outcome of the disorder, and the types are not reliably diagnosed. Many researchers are using other
systems to classify types of the disorder, based on the preponderance of "positive" vs "negative"
symptoms, the progression of the disorder in terms of type and severity of symptoms over time, and the
co-occurrence of other mental disorders and syndromes. It is hoped that differentiating types of
schizophrenia based on clinical symptoms will help to determine different etiologies or causes of the

The evidence that schizophrenia is a biologically-based disease of the brain has accumulated rapidly
during the past two decades. Recently this evidence has been also been supported with dynamic brain
imaging systems that show very precisely the wave of tissue distruction that takes place in the brain that
is suffering from schizophrenia.

With the rapid advances in the genetics of human desease now taking place, the future looks bright that
greatly more effective therapies and eventually cures - will be identified.

The Mormon psychiatrist is agreeable. He agreed that I had Psychotic Disorder NOS and he also agreed
that the only way to find out if I needed Invega injections was to stop them and observe me. Invega is
an expensive new drug that is classed as an atypical or new generation antipsychotic, with the
chemical name of paliperidone. Despite being a medical doctor I had not heard of paliperidone until I
was told I was going to be injected with it. At the time I was a prisoner at the PA Hospital, and knew that
agreeing to the depot injection was the only way Id get out of the locked ward. This was in mid-2013,
and since then I had been visited at my home by a middle-aged gentleman by the name of Nigel Lewin,
who agreeably injected me monthly with Invega Sustenna in my living room, sometimes in the presence
of an equally agreeable Indian gentleman by the name of Sagir Parkar. Sagir is a psychiatry registrar and
Nigel is a registered nurse. Both are male, and both trained in England, where I was born.

I am even more agreeable than the agreeable Mormon psychiatrist. I sometimes agree with people
when I dont agree with them mentally or smile in apparent agreement. Usually its silent disagreement.
The better I know someone the more likely I am to voice my disagreement, though I argue. I do enjoy a
good debate, though, and I have had some animated but never heated debates with Sagir and Nigel. I
have never debated with the Mormon psychiatrist, because debating with him would have been both
futile and fatal. I did reason with him, and he was, Im glad to say, amenable to reason. Not that I didnt
have Psychotic Disorder NOS, but that I didnt need to be injected for it. Not that he was convinced
that I didnt need the drug, he just agreed to stop it and watch me over the next year or so.

Watching me and observing me are turns of phrase used psychiatry and medicine with which I am very
familiar. It means observing me, not for signs of health, but of illness. The observations are to be made
monthly by Sagir and Nigel, both of whom I like and enjoy a good debate with. Moreover they dont
think I am mad just because I disagree with them, even if I laugh at what they say. This is very unusual
for mental health workers, and I have never experienced it in qualified psychiatrists, though there are
psychiatrists one can disagree with who dont regard all disagreement as insanity.
All psychiatrists make judgements about whether patients are deluded or not, and have no reference
point for such judgements other than their own beliefs. I have learnt this from experience. I was careful,
at first, with debating with Sagir and Nigel, and have become bolder over the past year. They are not
psychiatrists, but they are the ones who are tasked with making periodic assessments of my mental
state. Its called an MSE which stands for Mental State Examination. MSEs are at the heart of modern
psychiatry. Sagir is training to do MSEs and his competence in doing MSEs will be examined if he is to
become a psychiatrist. Becoming a member of the college of psychiatrists requires him to learn and
comply with the doctrines of what an MSE constitutes, and how it is used according to Australian
psychiatry. He never tells me exactly what he writes when he gets back to the hospital, but Ive seen
enough MSEs and done enough myself to have a good idea.

I called the Mormon psychiatrist a Mormon psychiatrist because I didnt know how to else to distinguish
him from other psychiatrists I have met. If others were Mormons they didnt tell me, but then neither
this this one. I found this titbit out by Googling his name, and reading what was in the public domain
about him. He lists the Church of Latter Day Saints as the only organization he belongs to, which I have
always known as the Mormons. His Linkedin business entry also lists Richard Branson, the founder of
Virgin as his only influence and that he has a MBA a Masters degree in business administration from
the University of Melbourne, with his original medical (and surgical) degree from Ireland. The Mormon
psychiatrist must have a bit of dough, since he also likes sailing, snow skiing, cycling, latin dance,
heliskiing. I found this outdoorsy image rather surprising given his rather portly figure, and found the
image of the conservative business-man cum psychiatrist doing Latin dance strangely liberating. The
fact that he was publicly declaring that he was a Mormon made him fair game, as far as I was concerned,
not because I particularly hate Mormons, which I dont, but because everyone knows that Mormonism
is crazy. It was a curious irony after years of improbable irony that I was being declared to be psychotic
by someone everyone knows to be psychotic.

When I say everyone, I mean everyone who is not a Mormon. I am not going to start calling them the
LDS Church or the LSD Church, when even Time magazine called them Mormons. I have a vivid mental
image of the Time magazine cover featuring the ostentatious headquarters of this church of latter-day
saints that regard notorious American nineteenth century conmen as saints. Ah, the miracle of the
internet; here it is:
Leo Tolstoy described Mormonism as the quintessential American religion. Mormons regard
themselves as Christians, and grew out of the Protestant Church in the USA, so they should really be
regarded as one more silly Christian sect, but they have their own, unique ridiculous beliefs, added to
the shared delusions of Christianity. The 1997 Time magazine article, the cover of which was imprinted
on my mind, presents this summary of Mormon theology:

Mormon theology recognizes the Christian Bible but adds three holy books of its own. It holds
that shortly after his resurrection, Jesus Christ came to America to teach the indigenous people,
who were actually a tribe of Israel, but that Christian churches in the Old World fell into
apostasy. Then, starting in 1820, God restored his "latter-day" religion by dispatching the angel
Moroni to reveal new Scriptures to a simple farm boy named Joseph Smith near Palmyra, N.Y.
Although the original tablets, written in what is called Reformed Egyptian, were taken up again
to heaven, Smith, who received visits from God the father, Jesus, John the Baptist and saints
Peter, James and John, translated and published the Book of Mormon in 1830. He continued to
receive divine Scripture and revelations. One of these was that Christ will return to reign on
earth and have the headquarters of his kingdom in a Mormon temple in Jackson County, Mo.
(Over time, the church has purchased 14,465 acres of land there.)

I quite like Sagir and Nigel, and I like the Mormon psychiatrist too. I like the Mormon psychiatrist
because he stopped the injections, and realise that him being believing in the Book of Mormon (if
indeed he does) did not stop him thinking and acting rationally, when it came to stopping the injections
that his colleagues, and not himself, had initiated. This made him a good doctor, in my eyes. It also
makes me wonder why I mentioned that he was a Mormon psychiatrist, rather than good psychiatrist,
or a Christian psychiatrist. The reason may be that, after many years of being labelled with this and that,
I have started labelling people myself.

I have had my liberty constrained by many psychiatrists and psychiatry registrars over the years, and
didnt like it. I didnt like them when they ordered that I be given drugs against my will, and I didnt like
them when they ordered that I be returned to the ward if I went home. I developed a strong dislike,
indeed hatred at times, of psychiatrists and psychiatry registrars who kept me prisoner in various
hospitals in Melbourne and Brisbane. Since they released me last, a couple of years ago, my anger and
hatred have dissipated considerably, and I can reflect more rationally and reasonably on psychiatry and
the psychiatry profession. The same way that I question Richard Dawkins blanket condemnation of
religion, I hesitate to make a blanket condemnation of psychiatry. My experiences as an involuntary
patient over the past twenty years have given me an unusual perspective on medicine, since I myself
trained and worked as a doctor of medicine until I was prevented from earning a living as a doctor
because of the psychiatry profession, which declared me to be mentally ill. The diseases they declared
me to have were the most serious psychotic illnesses in their textbooks schizophrenia, schizoaffective
disorder and mania.

Paliperidone (trade name Invega), also known as 9-hydroxyrisperidone, is a dopamine antagonist and 5-
HT2A antagonist of the atypical antipsychotic class of medications. It is developed by Janssen
Pharmaceutica. Invega is an extended release formulation of paliperidone that uses the OROS extended
release system to allow for once-daily dosing.

Paliperidone palmitate (trade name Invega Sustenna, named Xeplion in Europe and other countries) is a
long-acting injectable formulation of paliperidone palmitoyl ester indicated for once-monthly injection
after an initial titration period. Paliperidone is used to treat mania and at lower doses as maintenance
for bipolar disorder. It is also used for schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

I must admit that I was prejudiced against Mormons because of the brainwashed young men with white
shits and black ties who come knocking at the door with peculiar ideas from a new American religion,
but I dared not discuss religion with this psychiatrist. Neither did he attempt to discuss religion with me,
though I would have been quite happy to do so. I enjoy discussing religion. I rarely do, though, because
most of the religious people I know do not like their religion challenged.

Psychiatry is also a religion, with a hierarchy of increasingly high priests and several holy books. It is also
a cult, with icons and rituals, and a mentality of insiders and outsiders. Within psychiatry there are
several rival sub-cults, such as Jungians, Freudians, and others. The dominant cult in Australia is that of
biopsychosocial psychiatry. This is controlled by one, and only one organization the Royal Australian
and New Zealand College of Psychiatry.

The RANZCP even has a coat of arms, which was adopted from Britain in 1969. The symbolism is

The first thing that struck me was the metal helmet of a knight and the battle shield, reminding me of
the Christian Crusades to conquer the Holy Land. The cross on the shield reminded me of how, back in
the 4th century, the Emperor Constantine was said to have been converted to Christianity when he won
a battle after painting crosses on the shields. I didnt notice the obviously Christian cross till I looked
more carefully, despite the fact that it is at the top of the shield. It is the knight who caught my eye, but
the overall symbolism is clearly Roman Catholic, rather than overtly Masonic or Royalist. This is because
it is modern symbolism that was trying to shed its Royalist and Masonic roots, despite still calling itself a
Royal College. Instead, it seems, they have embraced the mysticism of Carl Jung and even evoke the
Aboriginal Dreamtime for hip modern audiences.

The RANZCP explains the symbolism of its coat of arms as follows, with no mention of the Crusading
knights armour:

The crossed bands and central square refers to an intellect that has become disordered and has
turned its strength against itself and the body symbolised by the outer body circle, the
disorganised inner components of the mind and the enclosed central spirit.

Above is the symbol for the chemical compound alum, to which has been attributed special
mental healing powers. The symbol incorporates a Roman Cross. Its supraposition is designed to
suggest that it is exerting healing influence over the disordered intellect.
The snakes entwined about the staffs, which could be caducei, are taken from a coin illustrated
by Jung. The snakes can also be related to Ungud, the serpent of the Aboriginal dreamtime.

The Latin motto ex veritate salus translates, according to the RANZCP website as out of truth
(understanding) comes health (or well being). Does this mean that truth is the same thing as
understanding or that veritate means both truth and understanding?

A more usual translation of undertsanding is perceptio. According to the Word Hippo there are many
other Latin words for understanding: adprehensio, animus, apprehensio, cerebrum, comprehensio,
comprensio, conprehensio, conprensio, humanus, intellectus, intellegens, intellegentia, intelligens,
intelligentia, mens, pectus, peritus, prudens, rationabilis, rationalis, sapiens, sciens, sensusbut not
veritate, which seems to mean truth. Am I just splitting hairs here? Dont both truth and understanding
bring health? Lets consider for the moment that they do. How successful is the Royal Australian and
New Zealand College of Psychiatry at promoting the interests of truth and understanding, and how
much is it promoting health and wellbeing in Australia and New Zealand?

The RANZCP controls all psychiatry in Australia through the system of specialist registration. All
psychiatrists must be members of the college to call themselves psychiatrists and claim higher rebates
from the government for talking to people than do GPs, Psychologists and other people who engage in
talk therapies, however successfully cannot claim rebates at all. This financial incentive is at the heart of
the medical system. The fact is most doctors would not go to work if they were not paid to do so.
Neither would most nurses, psychologists or social workers. It is an essentially reluctant workforce, that
look forward to the weekends and holidays, as well as the end of the shift.

That does not mean that health workers do not want to and try to heal, when they are at work. Doctors,
nurses and psychologists do try to heal while they are at work, and in many instances are successful in
doing so.
Dr Kym Jenkins graduated from the University of Manchester (UK) in 1980 with a Bachelor of Medicine
and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB), and initially specialised in general practice. After moving from the
United Kingdom to Australia in 1986 she worked in general practice before commencing psychiatry
training and completed her Fellowship with the RANZCP in 1998.

In addition to gaining a Masters of Psychological Medicine, Dr Jenkins pursued further studies in medical
education, gaining a Masters of Education degree in 2008. Dr Jenkins has held a range of roles as a
consultant psychiatrist in both the public and private sectors. She is currently Medical Director/Senior
Clinician of the Victorian Doctors' Health Program, runs a small private practice and is an adjunct Senior
Lecturer at Monash University.

Dr Jenkins has had extensive involvement in psychiatry-related medical education, both within the
RANZCP and externally. She has had roles within the College as an accredited examiner, trainer and
assessor and has served as the Chair of the Committee for Examinations, Chair of the Fellowship
Attainment Committee and Deputy Chair of the Board of Education. She has also been involved in the
planning and development of the new (competency-based) Fellowship program since its inception and
has chaired several of its working parties. She was a member of General Council from 2005 to 2010.
Dr Jenkins was elected to the Colleges inaugural Board in 2013 and became President Elect in 2013. She
will be President of the College from 2017 to 2019. She chairs the Membership Engagement Committee.

Dr Jenkins can be contacted via

I gathered that this psychiatrist is a Mormon, from his Linkedin business posting, where he volunteers
the information that he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the American
church known as the Mormons. He also mentions that he is interested in skiing, sailing and Latin
dancing, in addition to his psychiatry qualifications. I did not raise any of this, including his religious
beliefs, when I next saw him. It was not my place, and had I done so he may well have regarded it as a
sign that I was not mentally well. If I attempted to debate the tenets of the Mormon religion, and
authenticity of his beliefs, he most certainly would have. It would not have helped that I did not know
then that some Mormons regard Mormon as a pejorative term and prefer to be called the LDS
church (not to be confused with the LSD church which is more generally associated with psychiatry).
Patients are not expected to debate religion with psychiatrists. They are not even allowed to ask
personal questions though they have plenty of personal questions asked of them. This is in the nature
of what is called in medicine the doctor-patient relationship.

The doctor-patient relationship has changed over the years, which is a good thing. Patients have
become better informed about diseases and treatment alternatives as a result of the Internet, and are
more likely to question the doctors judgement. They dont expect to be ordered rather than advised.
One seeks medical advice, not doctors orders, these days. There remains, though, a power imbalance
between doctors and patients, especially in psychiatry, which, alone of medical specialties, can order
involuntary treatment under lock and key. These days they use magnetic locks and keycards, but a
prison is a prison, with or without bars. In many parts of the world mental wards and cells do indeed still
have bars and old-fashioned locks and keys. I can only imagine the horrors that must occur there as an
adoption of the treatment methods models the rest of the world adopted from the USA and the West.
Hospitals and wards for the confinement and treatment of those deemed (variously) as mentally ill exist
all over the world, but I have only seen the insides of public psychiatric wards in Australia, where I was
trained and later confined. What I saw and experienced there shocked me and drove me from being a
mild to a strong critic of what passes for psychiatry in Australia.

Australian psychiatry has a dark history, which is largely untold. Snippets can be gathered from the
writings of the psychiatrist Eric Cunningham Dax, who oversaw the reforms of the 1950s, when the old
asylums were modernized, and many of the long-term inmates were released into the community,
where they were cared for by community treatment teams. This system has expanded enormously
from the public hospitals where they originated, to the present nation-wide Mental Health Strategy,
which has bipartisan political support at state and federal levels. The psychiatric system is unchallenged
in Australia, and the many victims of abuse by the system are mostly too afraid of, or broken by a
system that demands compliance and has powerful means of persuasion, to speak out about it. Many
are deeply convinced that they have whatever label they have been told they have by the doctor, and
repeat, like parrots, that they have a chemical imbalance. If you ask them which chemicals are out of
balance, they will at best offer the names of serotonin or dopamine, depending on whether theyve
been convinced they have depression or schizophrenia. It so happens that the serotonin depletion
theory of depression was a convenient myth to sell Prozac and the other SSRI drugs, while the dopamine
excess theory of schizophrenia has been used, since the 1960s, to sell the old antipsychotic drugs, like
Thorazine and Haldol, which are known to block dopamine receptors in the brain.

Thorazine, known in Australia, as Largactil are product names for a drug called chlorpromazine, which
was discovered in France and later exported to the world as the first drug that worked for
schizophrenia and the drug treatment of psychosis. This is not to say that it was the first drug that was
tried, and said to work. The previous century was full of such drugs, all of them now regarded as toxic or
ineffective. What made gave Thorazine an undeserved reputation as a magic bullet? The answer, I
suspect, is complex. The spectacular growth of the pharmaceutical industry (and allied chemical
warfare) industry during the Second World War was one factor. The other was the globalization of
American and British psychiatry, devoid of psychoanalytical mumbo jumbo, and firmly focused on what
was euphemistically called biological psychiatry.

Biology from the Latin bios means the study of life, and biological psychiatry sounds very nice and
scientific. Biological psychiatry means something quite specific, and refers primarily to the treatment
methods, which are called biological treatments. These are euphemisms for drugs and shock
treatment. This came about through the history of biology and a scientific focus on chemicals and
electricity as being at the heart of biochemistry and physiology. Biological psychiatrists assumed that by
manipulating brain electricity and chemistry they could successfully treat minds. After all thats what
psychiatry is the medical discipline of treating minds. The Greek iatros means treatment, and is quite
distinct from logos a word usually translated as study of or knowledge of. This is the core difference
between psychology and psychiatry. One would hope and expect that psychiatrists would have
knowledge of the subject before attempting to treat it. When it comes to the mind psyche there is
even the core problem of what we are talking about. Does psyche mean soul, as the original Greek
meaning intended, or does it mean mind? Is the soul the same thing as the mind? What is the difference
between soul and a soul? Biological psychiatry doesnt concern itself with such philosophical
wonderings, and gets on with the social problem of diagnosing and treating, with a choice of drugs or

I have had 240 volt shocks a few times, but never to my brain, and always by accident. One time I was
deliberately shocked, simultaneously, with 40,000 volts. The pain was excruciating and for the only time
in my life I literally saw multi-coloured stars. It was like when one hits ones head, and sees stars, but
these were multi-coloured and continued for as long as the shock was applied. I thought I was being
shot with a gun, and that this was the experience of death. I had not heard of Tasers and the fact that
they had been added to the armoury of Australian police. This amounts to my personal experience of
being shocked, other than from the gentle shocks of static electricity, and the childhood experiment of
tasting the sourness when you pass electricity through your tongue by licking the electrodes of
batteries. I have never ordered that someone else be given electric shocks, though when I was younger I
believed in the efficacy and safety of what we called ECT and the Americans call electroshock. Though
I believed it worked for people with severe depression (though not for other reasons, and certainly
not in children) I based my reasoning on less than scientific standards. The fact that no-one even claims
to know how ECT works should cause doctors to hesitate in its use, given the fact that we know it
adversely affects memory, causes headaches, and frightens many people who are threatened with it.
The use of general anaesthetics does prevent bones from being broken by violent limb contractions like
the bad old days, but memory loss is usual. Though usually the memory returns, it can be permanently
damaged, especially when ECT is given in courses, as it usually is.

There are some people who swear that ECT has helped them, and there are many who are happy with
the drugs they are taking, and the diagnostic label they have been given. My main concern is for people
who are being electrocuted, for whatever reason, against their will, and those who are being drugged
against their will. I am also concerned about people being duped into ingesting various substances
(including drugs) on the basis of pseudoscience. backed by pseudoscientific arguments based on
pseudoscientific evidence of imaginary or manufactured diseases and disorders.

Imaginary diseases and manufactured diseases

Manufactured diseases are real diseases which are created by humans, of which there are fortunately
few. I have spent many years researching the theory that HIV is one such disease but am now doubtful
about it, for reasons I will explain later. Imaginary diseases develop whenever someone imagines that
they have a disease or illness. Sometimes they are correct in their imagination, often they are not. Can
imagining that one has an illness, cause one to become ill? Does thinking you have cancer or are likely to
get cancer, increase your risk of getting cancer or heart disease? I have pondered this matter for many
years, looking for evidence to confirm or refute the assumptions of the New Age movement that the
mind could heal the body and that the answer lay in meditation and meditative practices. This belief was
absorbed into the New Age religion from Tibetan Buddhism, in particular, converging with concepts
from other Eastern traditions such as Hinduism and Taosim. I was immersed in the New Age movement
when I first pondered the mind-body relationship and was open to the possibility, indeed I believed, that
the mind could heal the body. Now I am less sure, much less sure.

There are types of manufactured diseases that are frequently in the news chemical and biological
weapons, though their use is more often a threat than a reality (assuming that AIDS is not such a reality).
Manufactured disease also includes disease that is caused by drugs and alcohol, which are both
manufactured diseases, though alcoholism is increasingly blamed on genetics. This is where politics
and economics come into the matter, with the influential alcohol lobby predictably looking after its
vested interests. Then theres the tobacco lobby, which used to pay for ads on TV with scientists
proving that cigarettes dont cause lung cancer, until the evidence made such a claim ridiculous, even to
the gullible public. The public was then much more gullible about the truth of what they saw on TV than
they are now.
Another group of manufactured diseases that are acknowledged by the medical profession as a problem
but is rarely in the news constitutes, is iatrogenic disease.

Iatrogenic Disease:

I had always thought that the Greek iatros meant treatment, but I find, from Wikipedia, that it actually
means brought forth from the healer. That changes everything. It raises the difference between
treating and healing. Nevertheless, iatrogenesis is not the same as iatrogenic disease, since what is
generated by the healer may be positive, negative or neutral. For healers to legitimately claim the
mantle of healer, they need to have a positive therapeutic effect, rather than a negative one, or neutral

However, Wikipedia does not differentiate between iatrogenesis and iatrogenic disease, providing as
examples of iatrogenesis:

Risk associated with medical interventions

Adverse effects of prescription drugs

Over-use of drugs, (causing - for example - antibiotic resistance in bacteria)

Prescription drug interaction

Medical error

Wrong prescription, perhaps due to illegible handwriting, typos on computer.


Nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections

Faulty procedures, techniques, information, methods, or equipment.

The Encyclopedia of Death and Dying (which I have never consulted before) informs that

A 2000 presidential report described iatrogenic error and illness as "a national problem of
epidemic proportions," causing tens of thousands of annual deaths. The report estimated the
cost of lost income, disability, and health care costs to be $29 billion a year. The report
concluded that half of adverse medical events were preventable.

Issued by the most respected agency of American medicine, To Err is Human generated
considerable attention and surprise by concluding that up to 98,000 Americans are killed
annually by medical errors. This number slightly exceeds the combined total of those killed in
one year by motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297), and AIDS (acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome, 16,516).

Imaginary disorders and manufactured disorders


Confirmation bias

Commands and suggestions

Dont imagine a pink elephant! When someone pointed out the paradox that one cant help but think
of a pink elephant when told not to do so, it got me thinking again about commands and suggestions.
Even if commanded not to imagine a pink elephant, the command contains a suggestion that results in
the opposite of the actual words of the command. A pink elephant pops automatically into ones mind.
The same is the case, though not as dramatically, for dont think of an elephant! You cant help but
think of an elephant, if you know what an elephant is.

What about the questions that the World Health Organization recommends for the assessment of

Have you felt that life wasnt worth living? Have you thought about harming or killing yourself? Have
you felt tired of living or as though you would be better off dead? Have you ever felt like ending it all?

If you hadnt you have now. The question puts the idea into your head, it implants the suggestion.
Likewise all the other questions that doctors and other health workers ask their clients, patients, and
prisoners. Modern doctors dont give orders much anymore, though the old phrase doctors orders
betrays a more authoritarian history. Doctors used to give orders or commands, and the patient was
expected to obey to comply. These orders were not always rude, though some doctors are indeed
rude, to their patients, as well as to their colleagues, but rudeness does not win hearts, and the
demands of private practice are that one is polite to ones customers, however much you might dislike
them. Medicine is a service profession.

Giving orders is also against the nature of most doctors, as of most people they mostly have to be
trained to give orders. This training occurs in their university and hospital years, before they venture
into private medicine, where they are

Order and orders

Suggestions and advice


Enthusiasm and interest

Preconceptions positive and negative

Time, timing and using time efficiently

Physical and mental evaluation and examination

Diagnosis, prognosis and self-fulfilling prophesies

Treatment, and iatrogenic illness

Is health merely the absence of disease or illness?

Disorder and disorders

Order and chaos; disorder and chaos

Random this and random that

Quantum this and quantum that

Mechanism and mechanistic

Materialism and materialistic

Spiritual, spiritualism

Spiritual health and mental health

Does a healthy body promote a healthy mind?

Does the mind rule the body or the body rule the mind?

Dualism and its alternatives

Religion and religiosity

Fact versus fiction

Truth versus untruth versus lies (deliberate and unintentional)

Neural substrates and neural correlates

How scientific is medicine?

How scientific is Science

What does scientific mean in the first place?

Rival disease models and their problems

Rival treatment models and their relative merits

Most doctors and health workers do not have prisoners, but the most dangerous ones do. They rarely
order these prisoners, the ordering is left to other members of staff they tell their prisoners what is
going to be done rather than ask what the prisoner would lik

Doctors Orders

Can anyone read your mind?

Do you have a special relationship with God?

Is anything like electricity, X-rays or radio waves affecting you?

Are thoughts put into your head that are not your own?

Have you felt that you were under the control of another person or force?


I became consciously aware of the power of suggestions when I was employed to teach anatomy and
physiology to hypnotherapy students in Melbourne. This was in 1998 and 1999 and the Millennium was
imminent. New Age ideas were common, including the idea that the mind could heal the body through
various means. The Clinical Hypnotherapy Centre was run by a lady by the name of Kathleen Frith, who
had studied hypnosis under a man called Jim Golding. Golding died in 2001, but I did once see him in
action at Monash University, when he tried to hypnotise a young audience that the pineal organ in the
brain was a crystal that contained the soul, which miraculously disappears when you die (resulting in
corresponding weight loss) and the equally implausible story that an US Navy ship had time-travelled
during the Second World War (the legend of the Philadelphia Experiment). Some of Goldings audience
seemed to swallow the story they were hypnotised, judging by the lack of laughter and the
expressions on their faces. He didnt like it when I challenged his claims about the pineal after the
lecture (which I had expected to be a lecture about hypnosis rather than an exercise in casting a
hypnotic spell).

Kathleen once tried convincing me that one could change a persons gender through hypnosis.

When I accepted the position as a visiting lecturer I realised that my students, who numbered about 15,
came for many walks of life and had different levels of knowledge about science and biology. They were
all interested in hypnotherapy, and I was too. I was mindful of the difference between hypnosis and
hypnotherapy. I was wary of the former but open-minded about the latter. I entertained the serious
possibility that hypnosis could be used to promote health, and what the theoretical basis of hypnosis
was. Did it work, and if so, how did it work?

Hypno means sleep, and in classical hypnosis the patient is encouraged to enter a deep state of
relaxation, and suggestions are made by the hypnotist or therapist. Many techniques have been
developed over the years, and hypnosis was widely used by the medical profession in the 19th century.
In recent years it has become something of a fringe science, with a few psychiatrists practising hypnosis
for such things as pain relief, but the science of clinical hypnosis has not progressed much in recent

I was never interested enough to learn how to hypnotise people myself, but I absorbed some ideas from
my brief exposure to supposed hypnotherapy . One was that suggestions are important and when
people are relaxed they accept suggestions more readily. Another was that words, phrases, ideas and
suggestions can affect our health by acting on the subconscious. I had been interested in the
subconscious mind since I developed my theory of motivation in 1995. In this theory, I hypothesised that
the subconscious mind was generated by distinct but interconnected areas of the brain, including the
basal ganglia, limbic system and midbrain. The subconscious and unconscious parts of the mind were
more parts of the puzzle of consciousness that had me stumped.

I have never liked Sigmund Freud and have no interest in his writings. Unfortunately Freud has
fundamentally shaped what people understand as psychoanalysis which to me means analysis of the
psyche the mind or soul. Psychoanalysis is vital for self-knowledge, Freudian psychoanalysis is
disastrous. I am not enthusiastic, unlike many opponents of Freud, about Jungian analysis either, with its
mysticism and mythical archetypes. Analysis of the psyche can be done scientifically and rationally. This
includes analysis of the subconscious and unconscious aspects of the mind, as well as the conscious
ones. In addition, it is possible to consider scientifically and rationally the concept of collective
unconscious that Jung coined, in addition to collective consciousness and collective intelligence, which
he didnt include in his model.

Though I have not read much of Freud, I am familiar enough with his well-known model of id, ego and
superego to refrain from using any of these terms other than ego. The Australian band Skyhooks sang in
the 1970s that, ego, is not a dirty word. Some regard ego as the sense of self, others as self esteem.
They used to talk about ego boundaries being blurred in schizophrenia and other such mystical
mumbo jumbo based on Freudian theories about the ego, superego and id. Freud did not differentiate
the subconscious, and like Jung, he divided the mind between conscious and unconscious aspects.
Somehow the subconscious popped into the picture, and assumed centrality in modern theories of how
hypnosis and suggestions work.

I took from Freud the basic idea of the pleasure principle, and the irrefutable fact that we have sexual
instincts (which was obvious to Darwin many years before, as were many other instincts, including
curiosity and play, as I was to discover later). I think it is logically obvious that humans and other animals
generally seek pleasure and avoid pain, and that this is an important factor in motivation. Freuds ideas
about infantile sexuality, anal, oral and genital stages of development (and supposed fixations at
various stages of mental development), the Oedipus and Electra complexes, penis envy and the like, as
well as his model for dream analysis in an effort to analyse the mind are obvious reasons for Freudian
analysis to have fallen out of favour even in the USA. It never caught on in Australia; Freud was regarded
as a discredited crackpot even when I studied medicine in the 1980s. He was mentioned only to show
how far psychiatry had advanced since then, with the development of what was euphemistically called
biopsychosocial psychiatry.

Words and phrases carry images, which obviously have a profound effect on our health. The puzzle I
have been pondering is what these effects are, and why they occur in terms of neuroscience. This is a
part of a larger puzzle how do what we see and hear affect us? And how can directing our attention
and concentration through our eyes and ears promote our physical and mental health?

The puzzle has many missing pieces. Some are missing from my own personal knowledge, some are
missing from human knowledge.

Is thinking of a pink elephant good for ones health? What about thinking about a fluttering, green
butterfly, or majestic crashing waterfall? Does what one imagine affect ones health or is that just
mystical New Age nonsense? Imagining something is very different to the real thing, which is different
again to realistic representations of the real thing (such as photos and video). Is it healing to look at
beautiful, relaxing panoramas while listening to Mozart or Brahms? Or does that depend entirely on
whether you like classical music? Is heavy metal more healing than an Indian raga to a heavy metal fan?
Is the healing power of music intrinsic to the music and the physical properties of sound waves, or is it
entirely subjective, depending on taste in music. What determines taste in music? Why do some
rhythms make you feel like dancing and others not. Why is it that parrots can dance in time to music but
chimps cant. Why is it that parrots can imitate a human singing so much better than our much closer
primate relatives?

It is obvious that what we see and hear affects our emotions. It is also obvious that our emotions have
an effect on our physiology and metabolism, which include anabolic and catabolic processes in cells
throughout the body, including in the brain itself. It is these physiological and metabolic processes that I
focused on first when trying to understand mind-body healing mechanisms based on what we see and
I began my attempts at the puzzle in the brain, which has never seemed like a black box to me. Instead
I think of the brain as a soft grey-pink organ with a delightfully organic shape. I think of the brain as
something quite distinct from the mind, though of course they are closely connected, and interact with
each other. My assumption has always been that the mind, and consciousness are produced by the
brain, but that the mind, rather than the brain, controls behaviour. All voluntary actions require the
contraction of muscles and the connections between the motor cortex and voluntary muscles, down to
microscopic and molecular detail, are well understood. What is less well understood is the role of
structures deeper in the brain than the cortex, which can be easily studied through electrical stimulation
of the surface of the brain. These include the limbic system, basal ganglia, hypothalamus and thalamus,
which play key roles in perception, attention, concentration, and emotion as well as memory and
impulses or urges to movement.

Connectionism can only be taken so far. Making connections between different areas of the brain with
known localised functions is a good place to start, in understanding how the brain works. A lot is known
about the early neural processing of what we see and hear, but the complex process of emotional
reactions is less well understood. The reasons of this are the methods used by neuroscientists to
determine the function of parts of the brain by studying animals. Monkeys have similar brains to our
own in some respects, even rats do, but rats and even monkeys do not have anything like the complexity
of our minds or brains. Most importantly they do not have symbolic language. Symbolic language is
intrinsic to human thought in sickness and health. Without symbols we cannot understand words or
concepts we cannot be rational or irrational, we cannot think in language. But that does not mean that
elephants are not rational, They are; very much so. So was Aristotle, who said that only humans and not
animals have a rational soul, wrong?

Wikipedia to the rescue:

Elephants are among the world's most intelligent species. With a mass of just over 5 kg (11 lb),
elephant brains have more mass than those of any other land animal, and although the largest whales
have body masses twenty-fold those of a typical elephant, whale brains are barely twice the mass of an
elephant's brain. The relationship between brain size and intelligence (if there is any such relationship at
all) remains unclear. In addition, elephants have a total of 257 billion neurons. [1] The elephant's brain is
similar to that of humans in terms of structure and complexitysuch as the elephant's cortex having as
many neurons as a human brain,[2] suggesting convergent evolution.[3]

Elephants express a wide variety of behaviors, including those associated with grief, learning,
allomothering, mimicry, play, altruism, use of tools, compassion, cooperation,[4][5] self-awareness,
memory, and language.[6] Further, evidence suggests elephants may understand pointing: the ability to
nonverbally communicate an object by extending a finger, or equivalent.[7] All indicate that elephants
are highly intelligent; it is thought they are equal with cetaceans[8][9][10][11] and primates[9][12][13] in
this regard. Due to the high intelligence and strong family ties of elephants, some researchers argue it is
morally wrong for humans to cull them.[14] The Ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once said that
elephants were "the animal which surpasses all others in wit and mind."[15]
American science has come a long way since Louis Jolly West injected the elephant Tusko with a
massive dose of LSD in the vain hope of causing a psychotic rage reaction and killing the poor animal
instead. This was in 1962, and caused some controversy, mainly about the possible dangers of LSD, but
also about cruelty to animals. Since the 1960s and the development of the related fields of ethology and
ecology, there has been wonderful cross-disciplinary research into animal behaviour in the wild, which
has told us much more about humans and other animals than torturing and mutilating animals and
examining bits of them under the microscope or observing them in cages for behavioural

Despite the progress in understanding animal behaviour in the wild through careful observation and
analysis, there is a parallel industry of animal research on wild and domesticated. This includes testing of
various drugs and vaccines, for which small, cheap animals, like rats are usually used. Thankfully
international conventions have restricted the more cruel forms of animal experimentation, based on the
reasonable assumption that animals that have a complex nervous system also feel pain and can suffer.
This means that anaesthetics are mandated for vivisection of some but not other animals. At the same
time, the celebrated career of Professor Eric Kandel and his schizophrenic mice make me wonder if the
neuroscience establishment has any idea about the difference between a mouse and a man, and
whether they are taking analogies between mice and men a bit far.

Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work, over many decades, on neuronal transmission and
chemical synapses. His early work involved studying the effects of the neurotransmitter serotonin on
individual neurones and small groups of neurons in a type of mollusc (Aplysia) that has large neurons
which can be individually measured. He moved onto research on mice and rats, hoping to understand
memory and learning by focusing on the hippocampus, a structure deep in the temporal lobes, that are
involved in certain aspects of memory in rats and men. The easiest way of studying a structure in the
brain is to remove it or ablate it by deep cauterization. This method was used for many decades,
through the thirties, forties and fifties, and extending into the sixties, with the rise of behaviourism in
the USA and the global enterprise that followed its example.

Im not sure about the details regarding Kandels experiments on the hippocampus of mice and rats, but
I have watched the gentleman present an unintentionally amusing lecture at the University of Basel in
Switzerland, which awarded him another honorary doctorate. The lecture was in 2012 and titled Mice,
Men and Mental Illness: A Transgenic Mouse Model of the Cognitive and Negative Symptoms of
Schizophrenia. This lecture did not amuse his audience, and was not intended to. Most of the men and
women who listened to the respected authority on schizophrenia, dopamine and neurotransmitters
probably swallowed his presentation hook, line and sinker. Professor Kandel, moreover, believes what
he is saying, which is why his audience is so easily convinced by his nonsense. They dont realise its
nonsense because they dont know any more than him about the history of schizophrenia, and what
constitutes the cognitive and negative symptoms (versus the so-called positive symptoms) of
schizophrenia. More surprisingly, they have evidently not considered the difference between the
cognitive processes of mice and men, despite the so-called cognitive revolution.
Professor Kandel asks the obvious question: how can one develop a mouse model for something as
complicated as schizophrenia? His solution is reductionism: the disorders as they are clinically defined
are too complex so you have to take a component and study it in great detail. He provides an analogy
from cardiology, saying that instead of studying atherosclerosis, they studied cholesterol metabolism as
a feature of atherosclerosis, leading to the study of LDL receptors.

According to Kandels model, schizophrenia is characterised by a genetic predisposition to develop

three symptom clusters. These he classes as positive symptoms or the craziness (including
disordered thought, hallucinations and delusions), negative symptoms (social withdrawal, blunted
affect and decreased motivation) and cognitive deficits (attentional deficits, deficit in working memory
and deficit in executive functioning).

You may wonder how one tells if a mouse is deluded or hallucinating, or if its thoughts are disordered.
The answer is, as Professor Kandel admits, you cant: the positive symptoms are difficult to study in the
mouse is something of an understatement. One cant recognise blunted affect (or blunted facial
expression) in a mouse either. What you can do is breed mice that are socially withdrawn and forget
their way around mazes by knocking out particular genes and imagine that you have developed a
mouse model for schizophrenia. Maybe you can also breed mice that cant concentrate well, too, but
this would not be comparable to schizophrenia or ADD, even though ADD is theoretically a deficit of

My knowledge is incomplete and splintered, and I know it. I have long forgotten most of the things I
have done and learned in the past, though scattered remnants remain accessible to my conscious mind
and active recollection. This is the case for everyone, because memory fades, and human knowledge
itself is splintered. We can only remember a fraction of what we experience, and though my memory is
reasonable by human standards, it may not be so from the standard of an elephant. Elephants are said
to have excellent memories. Though I dont doubt this, Im not sure how well the memory of an
elephant compares with that of a human. What I do know is that I once understood how to do calculus
with considerable ease but cant remember how to do it any more through lack of use, and my general
mathematical competence took a dive when I became a doctor and started practising medicine rather
than mathematics. Forgetting calculus was a slow process, but until I checked recently what calculus
actually is, I had forgotten everything about it including its mathematical purpose, even the basic fact
that it is the mathematics of change. I also know that elephants, though they may remember many
things that we humans cannot, and may even be able to count and add or subtract small numbers, are
quite unable to do learn calculus at all, despite their famed memory. I know for a fact that chimps have
excellent memories, and so do dogs, though again their memory is quite different to our own. It has to
be, because words are not at the core of their memories. Words are integral to human memory, though
words are not, of course, the only things that are remembered.
Negative preconceptions

Dementia from the Latin loss of mind has been predicted to increase around the world as the
population ages. Of these cases of dementia, most will be diagnosed as having Alzheimers or
Alzheimers Disease, for which there is no known cure, and few proven treatments. For the past fifteen
years I have been sporadically investigating the intuitive hypothesis that an active mind prevents or
decreases dementia, and considering social and psychological factors that might interfere with
continued learning. For example the pervasive cliche that one is too old to learn or too old to
change, that one cant do science or has a poor memory for dates and cant do historyand so on.
It is common to hear people declare that they cant sing, cant draw (though rarely that they cant
write, even when they cant) based usually on discouraging childhood experiences. Could such negative
preconceptions have a bearing on the development of dementia?

Negative preconceptions can be expected to lead to negative appraisals and avoidance of situations
anticipated to be unpleasant, as well as negative evaluations of other people. This may be frank
prejudice against people based on their skin colour or the shape of their nose, or broad prejudice based
on gender or age, accent and fluency in a particular language, or class and caste prejudices. All can be
viewed as negative preconceptions, which can lead to negative experiences that reinforce the prejudice
through confirmation bias. Negative preconceptions can also discourage from learning about new things
and continuing the scaffolding process the Jerome Bruner theorised about where new learning is
built on an existing framework of knowledge by parents and teachers. But new learning also comes from
within we have natural curiosity. Though it got me into a lot of trouble when I proposed the
hypothesis that the curiosity instinct is a protection against dementia and depression, Ill propose it
again a couple of decades later, in the hope that no one will lock me up for it.

Negative preconceptions build up in our minds over the years about ourselves, others and the world.
These negative preconceptions include obviously harmful prejudices against others, but many more are
simply limitations we place on ourselves and our enjoyment of the world. We decide on the basis of one
or two negative experiences that we dont like this or that type of music or art, or type of food. Id often
be told my older English patients, I dont like spicy food or by younger Australians I dont like
vegetables. It struck me that some people must like very few things, and the more things you like, the
more pleasure you gain out of life. Gaining pleasure from learning new things is the same as satisfaction
of curiosity. It is pleasant to have ones curiosity satisfied. Conversely having ones curiosity denied is
stressful, causing irritation, frustration and, importantly, boredom. Boredom is greatly underestimated
as a cause of stress and suffering. Chimpanzees in cages visibly suffer from boredom, children in
classrooms learn to hide their boredom, but dont always succeed. When they are detected as being
bored and fidgeting like bored children do, there is a waiting diagnosis for them, depending whether
they act out or tune out. If they act out the favoured label is ODD, if they tune out it is fashionably
termed ADD.

ODD and ADD are American psychiatric labels, promoted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA)
for disobedient, bored, argumentative or distractible children (who have many and varied reasons for
their behaviour, including responding to authoritarianism and oppression by adults as well as their
siblings and peers being a child is a complex matter). ODD stands for Oppositional Defiant Disorder
and ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder, which is closely related to ADHD (Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder). ADD and ADHD are sometimes used interchangeably, but ADHD was only
synthesised in 1994 with the DSM IV, by merging hyperactivity and inattention into a disorder. The
American neuroscience establishment then started claiming that ADD/ADHD was a genetic disorder
and had the statistics to prove it, which was excitedly published in the Murdoch newspapers. No one
explained how this supposedly genetic disorder suddenly appeared in epidemic proportions coinciding
so precisely with the publication of the DSM IV and the associated marketing campaigns to capitalise on
any new labels or broadened diagnostic criteria for the application of these labels. The campaigns to sell
the drugs came in waves, carefully researched and orchestrated marketing campaigns, by rival, though
often colluding drug companies. Drug companies collude so much they often merge, with giant
corporations becoming even more powerful. This is what is known as Big Pharma companies like GSK,
Pfizer, Merck, Roche and Eli Lilly. All of these companies develop and market psychoactive drugs and
have common strategies, when it comes to convincing doctors to prescribe.

When the DSM IV came out I was in suburban general practice in Melbourne, where most of my patients
were elderly. Nobody tried to convince us that children had bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADD or
ODD, not drug reps, not psychiatrists and the medical literature. When I was in medical school in the
1980s we were told that children who were labelled hyperactive were just very active and that true
hyperactivity only affected about one in 200 children. These few children, we were told, had a
paradoxical response to stimulant drugs, such as amphetamines, which instead of speeding them up,
had the effect of slowing them down. Other children were, in my training, labelled only as FLKs
which stood for funny looking kids, who, it was said, might have mental disabilities as well as funny
faces. As the years have gone by, such unscientific approaches have been replaced with more scientific-
sounding words, but ODD and ADD are as unscientific as FLK is. Diagnosing childhood BD bipolar
disorder and schizophrenia is worse, since the drugs routinely used to treat these disorders are
extremely toxic, more so than the drugs used to treat ADD/ADHD. The big problem with ADD is not the
side-effects, it is the fact that stimulant drugs are generally addictive. It has been known that
amphetamines stimulate concentration, but are also physically and psychologically addictive for more
than a century. There are other side effects of stimulant drugs, depending on the type, but I had a
general concern about starting so early the habit of taking a pill for ones ills. I was also concerned about
the possibility, indeed the probability, that children would be scapegoated and stigmatised. Whenever
they did or said something out of order the natural tendency of the parent or teacher (or sibling) is to
wonder, has he been given his medication?

I think my concerns were justified, given the problem of crystal metamphetamine (ice) abuse. Like
heroin and cocaine, amphetamine manufacture is a product of Western science and technology that is
now wreaking havoc around the world, spreading like a cancer from the cities to the towns and villages.
Its ODD that they cant ADD this all up.
I am a Wikipedia enthusiast, but this is not the place to find out what ODD really means; on the contrary
it significantly confuses the issue, assuming that ODD is a real brain disease, characterised by genetic
factors and poorly functioning areas of the brain. Mention is made of amygdala, prefrontal cortex,
anterior cingulate, and insula, as well as interconnected regions that have been implicated by
neuroimaging studies in delinquent American youths. Wikipedia provides a reference for the
statement that ODD has an estimated lifetime prevalence of 10.2% (11.2% for males, 9.2% for
females), which led me to Daniel Dickstein, who made the claim. Dickstein, according to the Bradley
Hospital, Rhode Island website, leads Bradley's Pedi-MIND research program, which uses brain imaging
techniques, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and behavioral measures to identify biological
markers of psychiatric illness, including bipolar disorder in children and adolescents. Such markers could
help physicians make more accurate diagnoses.

Bipolar disorder in children??

In late 1994 and early 1995 I went through a period of relatively sudden integration of ideas, which led
to new ideas, hypotheses and theories. I was quite conscious of the change in my functioning, and
enjoyed the different mental state I was in. At the time I was working as a solo GP, and made a few
changes in how I treated my patients, adopting what I hoped was a more holistic approach to their care.
I also asked them more carefully about drug side effects, and was more thorough in my clinical
assessments and history-taking. I became more interested and engaged and distinctly more sociable.

Though my mind seemed to be working more efficiently than usual, and I found I needed less sleep, my
mind was not racing (in my subjective experience) and my observable behaviour to my wife, secretary,
family and friends was, at that stage normal. Though I was certainly hypomanic according to
psychiatric criteria, I did not think there was anything wrong with me quite the reverse. I remember
one of my friends at the time commenting that he reckoned I was the happiest guy on earth. I laughed. I
did feel very happy, and felt like everything I knew was falling into place and that I was, for some reason
having more and more insights. This is how I thought of my ideas I thought of them as insights. It
was as if a penny dropped to use the old English phrase that I grew up with. I have heard people with
a Catholic background using the term epiphany for what I take to be a similar experience a
convincing idea.

Many of my insights were about philosophy, psychology and psychiatry. Others were about politics. All
were based on what I had previously seen and heard, from one source or another, evaluated in the light
of what I was discovering in the dozen books I had impulsively bought and started to read, all at the
same time. One was about Chaos Theory, and without reading the book carefully I decided to do some
chaotic experiments of my own, I started observing the effects of apparent chaos in nature and its
aesthetic appeal. I had the simple idea that chaos theory suggests that systems of order grow out of
chaotic systems. I wondered how this might relate to what we humans find beautiful in what we see and
hear. I had known that the Fibonacci series has a bearing on the proportions of natural growth in plants
and animals, such as the proportions of a snail-shell and the number of flowers on a petal. Could the
Fibonacci series be a common mathematical principle in human aesthetic, given its well-established
musical significance? I also decided to trust my instinct, and decided to no longer wear a watch to
estimate the time. This did cure me of my previous habit of constantly looking at my wrist.

The insight that had me most excited occurred after a couple of hours painting and playing with my 2-
year-old daughter. This was that communication, curiosity and play are instincts that contribute to
motivation and can be harnessed to improve health. At the time I was not well-equipped to challenge
my assumptions, and had no one to do it for me. I was surrounded by artists not scientists, though some
had an interest in alternative medicine. So I reasoned on the basis of the little psychology and neurology
I had learned in medical school, using the terminology of the 1970s in my core assumption that
motivation depends on interplay between three forces instincts, conditioning and free-will. The
addition of free will as a third force (influencing instincts and conditioning) came to me as an insight,
which I regarded as very important.

There was more to my theory of motivation, since I tried to integrate my ideas about instincts with parts
of the brain that are known to be involved with subconscious urges to movement and emotions the
basal ganglia and limbic system. I knew these areas to be characterised by receptors for the
neurotransmitter dopamine, which I associated, therefore with emotions and movement. This was the
basic model, to which I added what I had recently discovered, in a Scientific American publication, about
the Reticular Activating System (RAS) a network of neurones connecting the brainstem and higher
cortical centres that is involved in maintaining ones state of consciousness. I read that the RAS utilizes
the neurotransmitter noradrenaline in its synapses, and noradrenaline is, I found, manufactured from
the catecholamine dopamine.

At the time I accepted the dopamine theory of schizophrenia, but I thought that negative
preconceptions also played a role in what many psychiatrists at the time were calling the
schizophrenias. I contemplated the idea of delusions and reasoned that people with, for example,
negative preconceptions (whether or not valid) of the CIA, would be prone to noticing things and
misinterpreting things in terms of the CIA and believing they were being followed. I knew that the
problem of schizophrenia was much more complex than misinterpretation, but I did not find out about
the history of the term, systematic abuses in the name of its treatment, and other reasons to regard
schizophrenia as a harmful anachronism that should have been discarded with the rest of
pseudoscientific phrenology.

I also developed some theories about the pineal organ in the brain, despite knowing very little about it,
other than it was known to secrete melatonin during the night, and that light shone into the eye
decreases secretion of melatonin in animals and humans. I also knew that the pineal is connected with
the visual system in a complex way, and that it is an evolutionarily ancient structure found all the way
from fish to mammals. I also knew that the pineal was suspected to be a magnetic sense organ in birds
and I wondered if it might also in humans, and be involved in our sense of direction as it was thought to
in birds. The little I knew about the pineal turned out to be much more than the psychiatrists who were
called in to diagnose me, who still thought it was a useless vestige of primitive brains, as was thought
before the discovery of melatonin in 1958. The belief that the pineal was vestigial was so prevalent in
my own medical family, that for many years every time I mentioned the pineal over the phone, they
would ring each other wondering has Romesh gone off again? Hes going on about the pineal again.
The psychiatrist who recommended my admission to Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane in 1995, with a
provisional diagnosis of mania cited, as evidence of madness my delusional theories on schizophrenia,
autism and magnetism affecting the pineal organ.

In retrospect what may have seemed like insights, but they were actually scientific theories of variable
merit. Some were falsifiable and others were not (which discounts them from being scientific). The
psychiatrists termed it hypomania a mental state on the ways to mania meaning madness.

Such factors, according to my hypothesis, may contribute to both dementia and depression, by
discouraging social interaction and new learning.

Though I have long forgotten the complex mathematics that I started studying at school, in other areas
my knowledge has increased dramatically since my teenage years. Some of this has been rote learning,
some has been experiential, some has been obligatory for my profession as a doctor, but most has been
voluntary self-directed learning. I have been trying to find things out, and it is something I spend a fair
amount of time doing, but in sporadic bursts on different subjects that interest me. This has resulted in
lots of bits of poorly integrated information, some of which I know to be true, some of which I am
doubtful about. But what criteria should I use to determine if something is true? I had assumed that the
answer lies in logic, reason and commonsense, but I have been led to believe that commonsense and
reason do not work when it comes understanding matter and energy at the quantum level, and it can
only be understood through the type of mathematics I started studying at school but have long
forgotten. That means I have to trust the physicists and mathematicians of the West whose physics and
maths also gave us atom bombs. The fact is that atom bombs, however heinous, do work - they explode
as they are calculated and designed to.

I have also forgotten many things that I learned much more recently. Other things, learned years ago,
remain fresh in my mind. Some of these things were memories from long before I learned and then
forgot calculus. Why do people remember some things and not others? Is it just a matter of reinforcing
old memories whenever you recall them? Im sure if I regularly used calculus I would still remember it,
and would have progressed in my knowledge and understanding of mathematics rather than regressing
from the time I was a teenager at school. Does that mean Ive lost synapses in my brain that I could have
kept active by practice? I do believe so.

When I studied medicine in the 1980s, neural plasticity was not recognised. It was assumed that once
the brain had developed to adult size, there were changes only in the function but not the structure of
the brain. Furthermore, it was assumed that personality, established in childhood, remains constant the
rest of ones life. In psychiatry this was termed the pre-morbid personality the personality before
the patient became morbid meaning ill. The idea that neurons and other brain cells can grow, forming
new connections between cells throughout life is now widely accepted, and termed neural or neuronal
plasticity. It is also established that neurons, though they reduce in number, increase in connectivity
throughout adolescence, and that use of neuronal circuits promotes their development and
preservation. It is also known that the growth of the brain is stimulated by activities that exercise it. The
area of motor cortex corresponding to the little finger of professional violin players has been found to
be larger than normal, reflecting their increased use of this finger.

Calculus and the fact that I have forgotten it, are of less concern to me than memory and synapses.
Doubtless if I was a mathematician I would feel differently, but I am particularly interested in the brain
and how it works than the mathematics of change. At the same time, what interests me most about the
brain is how it changes, and how these changes can be put to good use meaning to promote health.
Having knowledge is not necessarily good for the health. Not having knowledge is worse. But a little bit
of knowledge can be a dangerous thing if you think it to be a lot of knowledge.

How can I recover my lost knowledge and integrate what I know? At last the tool is available to me and
billions of others, and the formidable, but vital, task is at hand. The tool is the miracle of the Internet,
which had transformed my life and that of millions of others. For millions more it has been a given for as
long as they can remember, in the same way the TV was a given when I was a child growing up in
England. The key difference is that TV is inherently splintered and splintering, while the Internet is
inherently integrative and holistic. The TV is linear, while the Internet is lateral, as well as being
interactive. You can search for what you want and ask questions in such a way as to fill in the gaps in
your knowledge, as well as revise and learn more, with the greatest of ease. Having grown up with the
TV and remembering what it was like before Google, Wikipedia and YouTube I have been convinced of
the merits of the Internet, though at first I resisted the new technology and saw it as a sinister extension
of the manufacture of consent that Noam Chomsky had warned us about. Gil-Scott Heron rapped in
the nineties that the revolution will not be televised, while the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
rapped of television, drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation. But the Internet
has liberated humanity in a way TV was never able to, or intended to do. TV was always about selling
advertising, as far as the commercial channels went. The Internet is also about selling advertising, but it
has turned out to be much more than that. It has become an unparalleled source of integrated
information though this integration remains incomplete, and probably always will be. As more things
are discovered and thought of there are more things to integrate, so the process of integration is
necessarily ongoing, but the Internet provides the means to a vast body of knowledge, far more than
can be stored in the greatest library let alone the greatest mind.
I have always been aware that the Internet can spread untruths and falsehoods the same way that the
TV can. In some ways it is worse in this respect, since any rubbish can be posted on the Internet, while
only rubbish that passes journalistic standards (whatever they are) makes it onto the TV. A discerning
reader or viewer can find out the truth, and connect the dots using the Internet in a way that the TV and
old news media never made possible. The Internet not only makes connecting the dots easy, it brings up
the connections made by others, all over the world. In its best manifestation this had resulted in the
collaborative multi-disciplinary effort of Wikipedia, which has become my primary source of information
on any subject on which I am uncertain. I dont trust Wikipedia any more than I trust the sources various
entries provide, but it is a good start for developing an integrated, factual worldview. YouTube is a
valuable secondary source, but Wikipedia is unrivalled as a primary source, despite its many flaws,
errors and mistakes.

While it is a good place to start Wikipedia is rarely a wise place to end ones investigation if one wants to
find out the truth about something. What it provides is the mainstream view, but this is an important
view to have, to start with. The mainstream is mainstream for a reason, but the mainstream may be
wrong about things, and you dont find that out from Wikipedia. You might find out about
controversies though, which can lead you in the direction of the whole picture. In other areas there
are no controversies, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, but the information provided is incorrect. This is
not because, as its critics argue, Wikipedia can be written by anyone but because the references used
are themselves incorrect, or present only one or two of many competing hypotheses, theories or views.
Wikipedia is also much more reliable in some areas than others, partly because human knowledge is
more certain in some areas than others.

What is posted about a particular topic on Wikipedia is no doubt influenced by vested interests and
propaganda, though I suspect it is less so than the other mass-media and the Internet generally. At the
same time, when I have read the entries on some topics on which I have more knowledge in which I
have detailed knowledge, Wikipedia has rarely been as reliable or readable as truly trustworthy sources.
But truly trustworthy sources are hard to come by. In many areas Wikipedia is the best of several less
reliable alternatives. Im not certain about this, though. I believe it right now, but Im not certain.

I believe much more than I know for certain. Many things that I thought I knew for certain have turned
out to be untrue. They were delusional in Buddhist sense, but not delusional in a psychiatric sense,
where a delusion is a false, fixed belief. If beliefs change, they were obviously not fixed in the first
place. If delusions are defined merely as false beliefs, few would think that none of their beliefs are false
(that their beliefs are true and correct in every respect). Finding out that one is wrong is liberating,
though it can also be humbling and embarrassing. There is also a natural reluctance to believe that you
are wrong, which extends to reluctance to believe that the institutions and individuals that taught you
were wrong. Still, judging by my track record I still have delusions that have not revealed themselves to
me, or been revealed to me by others, as such. I suspect that I am still suffering from delusions, but Im
not sure what they are if I did, I would reject the false belief and assume the true one.
False certainty

People can feel certain, but be wrong. This is false certainty. People who think the earth was created
6000 years ago, or that the earth is flat may be certain about it meaning they feel certain about it
but they are wrong. I have watched with some amusement, the self-proclaimed Darwinist Richard
Dawkins debating the facts of evolution with Young-earthers, and struck by how tenaciously the latter
stick to their delusion. Dawkins is certain about Darwins theory of natural selection and the creationists
are certain about the Biblical account of creation, and their interpretation of the ancient book. It is
obvious to any rational viewer that Dawkins makes more sense vastly more sense, and that the
creationists are, to be blunt, stark, raving mad. This is where the amusement lies, for those of us who
agree with Dawkins about the ancient age of the earth and evolutionary theory.

Why are we amused by crazy people showing that they are crazy? I dont know, but I know that
watching people make fools of themselves in public is popular on YouTube, and religious debates
featuring Dawkins and his merry band of atheists have many views and likes on YouTube. Ive enjoyed
them myself, and was spurred on to watch more of Dawkins media crusade against religion, discovering
other icons of atheism such as the physicist Lawrence Krauss and the outspoken journalist Christopher
Hitchens, author of a book, which I have not read called God is Not Great. Hitchens has written many
books, and was very famous during his lifetime, but I had not heard of him till recently. Likewise
Lawrence Krauss and the other leaders of the atheist movement, other than Dawkins and Dan Dennett,
an American philosopher I was familiar with (though I did not know about his ardent atheism).

Watching these debates has been interesting but not, for me, confronting. I dont have a horse in the
race, so to speak. Others, including but not exclusively, religious people are affronted by Dawkins,
needless to say. People who deeply believe in God cant be expected to like being told that their
cherished beliefs are delusional. Their natural reaction is to argue that Dawkins is wrong, but I am yet to
find a situation where they won the debate. Dawkins likes to debate and to win debates, and they are
fun to watch, because he, and the other atheist intellectuals are, owing to their privileged educational
backgrounds, extremely articulate and often witty. I did not need to be convinced about the truth of
evolution, or the evils of some religion, though I hesitate to damn all religion, ritual and even
superstition. Maybe religion is instinctual and serves an important purpose? Maybe religion has some
redeeming features which I have overlooked? The debates, and the longer documentaries about
Dawkins crusade against religion since writing The God Delusion, have prompted me to reflect on the
role of religion in health and medicine. If belief in God is a delusion, what does it mean for other
religious beliefs, and the treatment of aberrant or unusual religious and spiritual beliefs by psychiatrists
in Australia and elsewhere. Are all superstitions to be regarded as delusions, and to what degree are
what are currently diagnosed as delusions commonly held superstitions including superstitions
disseminated through the globalisation of religion?

I wondered before about why we are amused when people show themselves to be crazy. Maybe we
have a sadistic streak, or maybe just atheists do, and they are the ones who watch these videos and
attend the various atheist gatherings. Do atheists have a more cruel sense of humour than religious
people? I really dont think so, after watching a recent video of the so-called Islamic State (or ISIS) in
Iraq. There are obviously some forms of craziness that no rational person finds amusing.

The problem of Islamic extremism and, specifically the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade
Centre in New York are what Christopher Hitchens says promoted him to embark on his campaign
against religion, which he continued to his death in 2012. Hitchens book God is not Great was a direct
challenge, and a word play on the Muslim exhortation Allah Akbar God is Great that the Muslim
extremists have the grotesque habit of shouting when they chop of heads, filming it with the Western
technology that they profess to hate, and posting it on the Internet, in the hope of attracting more
brainwashed young men to fight and kill people they variously label as infidels. I am confident that this is
not the Islam that most Muslims follow, any more than Christians follow the example of the Crusades,
but Dawkins and Hitchens have a point when they say that we should develop our systems of morality
(not to mention science) on modern, enlightened views than those devised thousands of years ago,
before the discoveries of science. I would add before the invention of international laws and covenants
on human and animal rights. These were not covered by any of the ancient religious traditions, or by the
laws of individual nations, and have transformed what we, in the modern world, think is acceptable. The
fair and equitable enforcement of these laws is a different matter.

I enjoy watching videos of Hitchens even when I dont agree with what he says. He has a likeable
directness, and apparent nonchalance. He can also be passionate in his arguments. Hes a powerful
orator and powerful oratory is pleasurable to watch. Hitchens was a well-known writer for Vanity Fair
and other publications, but I am not familiar with the Anglo-American media and did not know about his
positions on such things as the Vietnam War, Kissinger, Iraq, Iran and North Korea until after I had
watched and enjoyed his arguments against religious fundamentalism and the God of the Old
Testament. When I watched his contributions in the political sphere I was rather disappointed in his
apparent blindness to American militarism, that I was well aware of from such trusted sources as Noam
Chomsky. I was also disappointed by how little he seemed to think of Iran and the achievements of its
people, and his rather dubious claim that having been to Iran, he could say that most Iranians supported
an invasion of their country to rid it of the mullahs. I think this rather unlikely, and gather that Iran is a
relatively progressive, rapidly-developing nation with a long and proud historical tradition. The literate
and multilingually articulate Iranian people that I have seen on the Internet seem quite capable of
shaking off any domination by the mullahs, if indeed they are being dominated by the mullahs at all. I
dont know enough about the subject, but suspect that Hitchens, despite visiting the country and writing
about it and boasting that he had been to all three Axis of Evil countries, did not either. If the people
Hitchens met wanted their country invaded by Americans it must only have been the crazy, not to say
unpatriotic, Iranians who would have expressed such an opinion.

In his opinions about Saddam Hussein and the probable outcome of an invasion of Iraq, Hitchens, always
happy to venture his opinion and predictions, was glaringly wrong, as events have turned out. Before
the 2002 invasion by the so-called coalition of the willing, Hitchens predicted that it would all be over
within five years of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and that the relatively equal numbers of Kurds,
Shiites and Sunnis would lead to a power balance rather than sectarian division. He boldly predicted
that there would not be much in the way of revenge attacks and vengeance. He was obviously wrong
here, and I was not too confident on his opinions regarding Syria either, since I have a suspicion that
President Assad is being demonised, along with President Putin and the other enemies of the US military
and body politic.

One of the words Hitchens has taught me is numinous. I had never heard it before and I liked the
sound of it. Sounded like luminous and we all like to be illuminated. Hitchens used this word in the
context of wonderful and awe-inspiring experiences I do not deny the numinous he said. I have a
linking for my old Oxford Dictionary, though I could have checked the meaning of the word faster on the
Internet. The dictionary says numinous means Of a numen; spiritual; indicating presence of divinity;
awe-inspiring. A numen is, according to the same dictionary a local or presiding deity. What does
Hitchens mean when he says he rejects religion but does not deny the numinous?

Hichens was a journalist rather than a scientist, but the surviving leaders of the atheist movement have
more to say about science than politics, which is perhaps just as well. When people such as Sam Harris
have ventured into political debate with the likes of Noam Chomsky in defence of American foreign
policy, they are liable to expose their ignorance of history and politics. Harris is a neuroscientist, (though
Im not sure what that means, in his case) and has many fans as a leader of the atheist brigade rather
than any particular insights into the neurosciences. He specialises in various ways to wittily put down
religion with a particular focus on Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and is a popular debater and writer.
Dawkins and Krauss have more to say about science than they do about politics, with a shared
perspective on religion. This is that religion all religion is harmful, because it is based on blind faith
rather than evidence. Dawkins insists that his main concern is with truth and what is true, what people
do is less concern to him. He says though that he is, in addition to being motivated by love of science,
and how when you are in love you want to talk about it and share it, but admits to also being angry
angry about children being labelled as belonging to one or other religion before they are old enough to
know better. The same way we dont label children according to the political persuasion of their parents,
we shouldnt label them as Christian or Muslim children. This, Dawkins, argues is a form of child
abuse. I can see his point, and am aware that there is a lot of pressure on children to conform to the
religion of their parents and family, even when logic and rationality dictate otherwise. They are often
afraid, or ashamed, to admit that they dont believe in their parental religion. They may feel guilty or
embarrassed at their loss of faith. I have a lot of sympathy for such people, and admire people like
Dawkins and Hitchens for drawing attention to the problem of coercive religion, and Hitchens in
particular for his stand against both female and male genital mutilation in the name of religious

When I trained in paediatrics in the 1980s, circumcision in Australia was in rapid decline. In the 1960s
and 70s most Australian men were circumcised, though Im not sure why this came to be. There was a
campaign in the 1970s, led by paediatricians, against the practice, against arguments that included the
curious idea that boys would want to look like their fathers (which patients of mine offered as a reason
to circumcise their sons even in the 1990s) and the idea that it was good for hygiene. In the 1980s we
were told that cutting off the foreskin to keep the penis clean is like cutting off the ears to keep the head
clean. It stick in my mind, and I used it on the increasingly rare occasions that I was asked my opinion
about whether it was a good idea to circumcise boys. During our training we were also shown
photographs of circumcisions gone wrong, resulting in horrible infections and penile deformities. It was
enough for me to be convinced, for good, that circumcision is a brutal tradition, however widely it is
practiced, and even if it was practiced in Australia long before the White man came here, as I have been
told was the case. Ritual mutilation was common in many tribal societies, and entered Judaism and later
Islam, through the tradition ascribed to Abraham (or Ibrahim in the Muslim tradition). This is not a good
reason to cut of the foreskin of infants, with or without anaesthetic, 3000 years later.

Science can tell us what is, what was and what will be, but not what should be. It can tell us only a bit
about what was in the bigger scheme of things, but it can tell us a lot, in terms of the total amount of
knowledge one person can digest in a lifetime. The rest of my life could easily be spent discovering what
science already knows not thinks or believes about the past. It includes all that science has
discovered about history, anthropology and biology, and what science has discovered about physics,
chemistry and cosmology. The sum of all this knowledge is still only a small part of scientific knowledge
there is also linguistic knowledge and the vast amount of knowledge that has been acquired, through
scientific means, of the human body, including the brain and nervous system.

What is known is naturally a much smaller amount of information than what is theorised or
hypothesised. People have many theories, about all manner of things, and these theories are dynamic.
Scientific theories come and go. Some are disproved, some are just forgotten about and go out of
fashion, only to be rediscovered some years or decades later. Some are disproved and yet resurface
time and time again in various guises. This is especially so when it comes to theories about how various
medical treatments work. Note that it is rarely the theory that leads to the treatment, rather the
treatment that leads to the explanatory theory. This has been the tradition in Western as well as Eastern
therapeutic models. In the case of the drugs I prescribed daily as a GP I understood the mechanism of
action of only a few, satisfied that no one knew how they worked but they did. I assumed that someone
in the past had proven their efficacy, or they wouldnt be listed as pharmaceutical drugs for the
treatment of various conditions. In terms of the specifics I was guided by the opinions of specialists in
the field, though I found that each specialty had a peculiar obsession with itself and tended to see
everyone through the prism of its own particular doctrines.

I also trusted the drug reps but not much further than I could throw them. Drug reps are enthusiastic
promoters of their drugs and tell doctors about the upside and not much about the downside of various
drugs. They themselves do not know about the down side, since they are not told about them in their
pre-sale indoctrination. Its all done by hypnosis, though its never acknowledged as such. The process of
getting people to suspend their critical judgement and implant suggestions directly into the
subconscious is how the advertising experts are taught to think of the minds of their targets. The art
and science of hypnosis has been neglected by the medical profession, but not by the advertising
industry and media machine.

I like the media machine much more than I used to. After the initial hypnosis more off I became wary of
the TV, which I had trusted as a source of information when I was a teenager and first came to Australia,
and had a profound effect on my taste. Back in the 1970s I was well and truly hypnotised every time I
turned the TV on, which was frequently. There had been no TV in Sri Lanka, so when we arrived in
Brisbane I watched the box till my eyes were square. I fell in love with pop stars and actresses, as well as
for some reason, Princess Caroline of Monaco, who I regarded as very beautiful. I had a crush on Suzie
Quatro and Deborah Harry from Blondie, and a picture, from TV Week, of the country singer Linda
Rondstadt. The TV directed my likes and dislikes, and I fancied girls who looked like the pretty girls I saw
on TV. During this time of TV hypnosis I often found myself humming jingles from the TV in my mind and
out loud. Then there were slogans from the TV Dont sign anything till you see Zupps! I gathered from
the ad that Zupps was a used car outlet located in what later became my home suburb Moorooka.
Until I moved here and gained a much richer perspective of Moorooka, this Aboriginal word meaning
Iron Bark, was Moorooka, the magic mile of motors where youre sure to find a car to suit your
style. This may be how most Brisbanites of my age think of Moorooka to this day from a meme
generated by a used car dealers catchy jingle, but things have changed dramatically in Moorooka since
the 1970s when it was famous for its mile of car retailers. Now it is most remarkable for its

Moorooka was last in the news in Brisbane when it was affected by flood a few years ago, and there is
not much about my hometown on the Internet. Moorooka is one town of thousands that are covered by
the Queensland news media, and is mentioned only when there is a natural disaster that affects it. In
fact, though it has a distinct identity, Moorooka is only one of many suburbs in Brisbane, and grew, like
the rest of suburbia, out of a British convict colony on the Brisbane river, named after the British
governor of the day, Sir Thomas Brisbane.

Most of the suburb names in Brisbane are not Aboriginal. When I busk in the local shopping centre it is
rare indeed to see any of the original Jaggera people coming to the Woolworths supermarket. Who I do
see is a multitude of different races of all colours, shapes, sizes and presumed ages. I dont spend much
time guessing peoples ages, but I do notice many things about new and old Australians and how they
interact with a stranger playing unfamiliar music on keyboard in the arcade, and respond to the grooves
and melodies he is producing. The music is unfamiliar in that they have never heard the particular music
I am playing, since it is original and improvised, though certain aspects of the music would be variably
familiar to them. Previously I have busked playing guitar and singing in Melbourne, which was also an
interesting experience, but my recent ventures into the commercial heart of Moorooka have been
different, because the same people return to do their shopping, and get used to seeing me there. I
generally smile at everyone who walks by. Some people smile back, and some say something too.
Usually its nice. If they dont like my music theyre unlikely to say anything at all. Sometimes they smile
because Im smiling at them, and not because they like my music, but sometimes they show, from their
body movements that they do whether they smile or not, and whether they say anything or not. This is
because rhythmic music makes them dance what I call the dance instinct.

I am intrigued by the dance instinct, and makes people feel like moving their head and limbs in time to
music. Why doesnt it happen with our eyes or tongue? What parts of the brain are involved, and how
can the dance instinct be used to promote health? As soon as infants are old enough to coordinate the
movements of their limbs many start dancing with them, and I have seen toddlers dancing well before
they can talk. Why did this instinct evolve, if indeed it is instinctual, and Im sure those, like Steven
Pinker who deny a musical instinct, would also deny a human dance instinct.

I have always regarded myself as a scientist rather than a healer; I studied the science of medicine rather
than the art of healing. Medicine treats disease, though doctors also try to promote health, and
increasingly medicines are given to healthy people with the promise of keeping them healthy or making
them healthier still. I was trained to identify myself as a doctor, but never a healer. If a patient got
better, it was because of the treatment I had prescribed, in addition to their own natural healing
mechanisms, but not because of any healing effect that I myself had on the patient.

I never kept statistics on my patients, though I kept hand-written case notes. I recorded my patients as
cases, but the relationship between a doctor and patient is rather different to other cases such as
legal cases. The therapeutic relationship is supposed to be healing as well as the treatment prescribed.
This is not evident through the impersonal case notes that GPs write about their patients (or enter on
computer screens).

Doctors, around the world, are taught to take a history as the first step in a clinical examination. This
often perfunctory for surgeons, but is vital in medicine and psychiatry. Taking a good history is
regarded as a sign of good medicine, but in reality, the history is too often bypassed due to time
pressure, and lack of appreciation of how important history-taking is, and how the time used in taking
the history can also be used to implant healthy suggestions by a skilful therapist. Every utterance by a
therapist is a suggestion, including the ones they offer as mere observations, and to greater or lesser
extent acts as a hypnotic suggestion. These suggestions can have a positive, negative or neutral effect
on the health of the client, customer, patient or prisoner as the case may be.

The gems of truth are scattered between disciplines and nations, and between different historical and
philosophical traditions. Science is a body of knowledge (from the Latin scientia, meaning knowledge)
derived from various means of reasoning and logic. There have been confusing debates over the years
about what the scientific method is, but this debate was exclusively in the West, largely between
philosophers in Europe, Britain and the USA. I will discuss my take on these debates later, but first I
might consider the difference between knowledge and belief, theory, hypothesis, suspicion and

Knowledge, belief, theory, hypothesis, suspicion and disbelief are all degrees of belief. These may be
regarded as degrees of certainty. This is, of course a rather arbitrary classification, but it will do for now.
People talk about things being scientifically proven. This claim is often made for various drugs and
other treatments. Scientifically proven implies that scientific experiments have been done, using the
scientific method being that falsifiable hypotheses are supported (made more likely) or disproved (in
which case the hypothesis is discarded). This is the Western philosophical definition of what the
scientific method is, not the definition of science as construed by the ancient Greek scientists and
philosophers, or those of the East, in China, India, Persia, Egypt and Iraq which led the world in
technology after the fall of the Greek and then the Roman Empire. So when did the West become the
sole credible authorities on science, scientific knowledge and what the scientific method entails?

The dominance of Western Science came about through the Scientific Revolution, which has been
written about at length. Scientific revolutionaries like Isaac Newton, Voltaire and Descartes were
indeed brilliant and original thinkers, but the greatest discovery of the eighteenth century, from my
perspective, is the invention of the microscope and amazing discovery that all living organisms are
composed of tiny, amazingly varied cells. This was a true revolution in and of itself, and it was made in
the West.

The other great revolution, made around the same time as Darwin published his theory of natural
selection as an explanation for evolution, was in the East, according to the perspective of the West in
Russia, with the wonderful creation of the Periodic Table of Elements by the Russian scientist Dmitri
Mendeleev. The ancient and medieval Greeks, Romans, Indians, Persians and Chinese physicians had all
assumed that the observable world was composed of only four or five primary elements Mendeleev
showed that that there were over a hundred, and predicted from his model elements that had not yet,
but have since, been discovered. Physicians in the West also believed in the four elements and four
related humours, the balance of which determined health until the Scientific Revolution which
occurred over a couple of centuries. Descartes, for example, still believed in the four humours, though
he made some surprisingly accurate observations about the nervous system, along with his
philosophical meditations. The four humours that determined health were named as blood, phlegm,
black and yellow bile, though the meaning of these terms is not what we mean today (especially
phlegm). Each of the four humours was associated with a personality type, the names of which are now
part of the common (and less common) English vocabulary sanguine (dominated by blood), phlegmatic
(dominated by phlegm), choleric (dominated by yellow bile) and melancholic (dominated by black bile).
Melancholic and melancholia were used as medical terms for what was renamed depression. The
humoral theory was that each of the humours had variable amounts of each of the four elements, and
that blood had all of them. This was the rationale behind the widespread intervention of blood-letting,
which was a mainstay of medical treatment by physicians in the West as well as the Near East (from the
Western perspective also called rather misleadingly the Muslim World).
Despite growing up in the South and South East of the European maps, I know much more about the
history of Western medicine than I do of the medical traditions of the East, but unlike most doctors I
have approached them sympathetically, with the assumption that they had something to offer to what I
recognised as a limited perspective inherent in my training in what I saw as Western Medicine. This was
about twenty years ago, when I first started seriously thinking about Chinese and Indian health models,
and the unfamiliar concepts of chi (qi), yin and yang, and meridians from Traditional Chinese Medicine
and the concept of chakras from the Ayurvedic system of India and Sri Lanka. I also looked towards
Buddhist philosophy for a new understanding of psychology, with a growing awareness of the many
flaws in the philosophies of Western psychiatry and psychology.

In late 1994 I met a young woman who challenged my assumptions. Her name was Helen, and she was a
masseur and shiatsu therapist who was studying Traditional Chinese Medicine. I met Helen and her
friend Sara at a nightclub, and became deeply infatuated with Sara (who later became my partner and
the mother of our daughter Zoe). My infatuation with Sara led me to become friends with Helen, who
directly challenged me with what she had learned about shiatsu, and was learning about Traditional
Chinese Medicine. I had an open mind about meridians, yin and yang, but found her explanation of chi
unsatisfying. It was clear that when she was talking about liver and kidneys being affected by yin and
yang, she wasnt talking with any of the basic knowledge of these organs that I had gathered at
university. In retrospect, using the modern sceptic terminology, I was hypnotised by woo woo.

Helen introduced me to another occult tradition, for which Sara was enthusiastic, that of Tarot Cards. I
had never heard of Tarot Cards till Helen brought out a pack, carefully wrapped in her silk underwear,
for some mystical reason. She then brought out the Holy Book for its interpretation the Mystic Tarot
Book. I was hooked when Sara gave me a copy of the Mystic Tarot Book and a pack of tarot cards for my
34th birthday. In retrospect, the Tarot cards drove me mad, for a while, mainly by convincing me that
Sara was in love with me and we were destined to be together. As it turned out, we did, though; maybe
the tarot cards shaped this event. They certainly didnt predict them, and I now dont think such
prediction of the future is possible. But at the time I was consciously maintaining an open mind, under
the impression that it was unscientific to have a closed mind you might say my mind was so open my
brain fell out.

I now realise that when I fell in love with Sara I suspended my critical judgement regarding what she
said, and to some degree what her friend Helen did as well. I believed what she said and I trusted her
judgement, even when it conflicted with what I thought I knew. This was very unusual for me, but had
happened when I had fallen in love in the past. Over the years, though, my critical faculties returned to
me when it comes to what Sara thinks, though I still respect what she says, and take her opinion

Sara now says she warned me, at the time, that tarot cards only show you what you want to see, and
can be interpreted however you want. If she did so, I was so mesmerised by the occult ritual that I didnt
hear it I certainly didnt heed it. The Mythic Tarot Book presents various layouts, based on different
traditions, though I didnt bother reading all the details I was interested in what it said about the
future. I was excited about the New Age. The millennium was only five years away.
I was caught up with New Age excitement which was fed by two books that I read at the time the
Celestine Prophesy by James Redfield and the Book of the Hopi by Frank Waters. The Book of the Hopi
has been around since the 1960s, but had a resurgence in popularity with the New Age movement in the
1990s. The thing that captured my attention the most in the Book of the Hopi was the authors claim that
the Hopi Indians of Arizona had a health system that had the equivalent of the Indian Chakra model and
that the brow chakra corresponds with the pineal organ in the brain. This led to my enduring interest in
the pineal organ, which I had thought, till then, was a primitive vestige of the reptilian brain that no
longer had a function in humans. All we had learned in medical school was that the pineal, which has no
known function in humans, usually calcifies with age. This calcification, we were told, can be used to
determine whether a patient had a brain tumour or haemorrhage which was compressing and distorting
the brain (called midline shift, when the calcified pineal is no longer in the midline).

In 1995 I had neither access to a computer nor to a medical library, so I had to depend on the few old
medical books I had acquired from my father and a few that I had bought myself over the years, along
with the many medical magazines that were routinely sent to me by sole virtue of the fact that I was a
GP, as well as the CME (Continued Medical Education) literature that allowed me to call myself a
Vocationally Registered GP. These sources didnt tell me much about the pineal, other than the 1980
edition of Harrisons Principles of Medicine, my fathers old physicians bible, which had some intriguing

Since the discovery of melatonin in 1958, compelling evidence has accumulated that the
mammalian pineal is not a vestige but an important component of a neuroendocrine control
system. The organ has been shown to function as a neuroendocrine transducer.

This respected textbook contained a lot of information I didnt know about, including the metabolic
pathway by which the amino acid tryptophan is converted to serotonin which is then metabolised to
melatonin in the pineal. Acknowledging the mistake, in passing, that the pineal is a vestige, Professor
Richard Wurtman, the author of the chapter on Diseases of the Pineal Gland, informs us that the pineal
is now thought to influence secretion of hormones by the pituitary, and to be influenced by light. I was
particularly interested in the pineal organs connection with the visual system, and the fact that it has a
sympathetic innervation:

The information about the light travels to the pineal by a route which involves (1) the
inferior accessory optic tract (2) centers in the brain and spinal cord that regulate the
sympathetic nervous system and (3) the sympathetic nerves to the pineal which originate in the
superior cervical ganglia. The diurnal variation in melatonin secretion from the human pineal,
which causes melatonin levels to peak during the hours of darkness, provides the body with a
circulating clock which is under the direct control of the lighting environment

In the early 1990s there was a new sensation on the pharmaceutical market, about which there was a
flurry of hype and pop psychiatry books Prozac. Eli Lillys Prozac was the first of the SSRI
antidepressants, which rapidly usurped the position of No.1 antidepressant from the tricyclic
antidepressants, which had been the mainstay of psychiatric treatment of depression from the 1950s to
the 1990s. I was trained to prescribe tricyclics liberally, in the belief that these drugs were a good way of
getting people off the more addictive benzodiazepines (or benzos) which were regarded as a big
problem at the time. We were taught that the mechanism of action of tricyclics is uncertain, but that it
was likely to work by affecting the neurotransmitter noradrenaline (called norepinephrine in the USA).
This led to the promotion of the noradrenaline theory of depression which the drug reps promoted
before switching to the serotonin theory of depression with the new class of drugs (which were said to
work through blockage of re-uptake of serotonin by synapses in the brain).

This is where I was at in 1995, when I started trying to make sense of these conflicting views, all claiming
to be scientific, and wound up getting myself diagnosed as insane and locked up for talking too much
about my developing theories.

From my vantage point on the far south-east of the old colonial maps, its difficult to ignore the fact that
Australia is not, by any stretch of the imagination, part of the West. These maps showed Australia down
in the far, lower corner, with only New Zealand further away from the centre of the Empire. People in
England (and the USA) still describe us as living down under. One doesnt find many Australians
regarding England as being down under, although of course it is. The idea of The West is pervasive
though, and important for very practical reasons including the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
What I studied at the University of Queensland and Royal Brisbane Hospital was Western Medicine.

My training in medicine was conventional for the 1980s in Australia, and was splintered from the outset.
We studied anatomy and physiology as separate subjects, which were disconnected from our studies of
embryology, histology, biochemistry, sociology, psychology and various specialties of medicine and
surgery. These were supposed to somehow come together when we were confronted with whole
human beings with real problems who sought our medical assistance. We were called the healing
profession, but we did not learn much about health. We did learn an enormous amount, if splintered,
about disease and how to diagnose it. We also learned the rudiments of how to treat these diseases
with drugs, and when surgery was indicated rather than drugs, but we learned very little about the
natural healing mechanisms of the body or what we could do to maximise these without resorting to
drugs or surgery.

Over the past twenty years I have been theorising on the healing mechanisms that were ignored in my
training, but that can be explained in terms of established science. These have been centred on what
might be called the mind-body relationship and a holistic approach to health, but here I hesitate,
because both mind-body medicine and holistic medicine are often taken to mean something very
different to my own interpretation of these terms.
When I studied medicine there was already widespread criticism of the tendency of doctors to view
patients in terms of diseased body parts rather than whole people. This was reinforced by our training.
When we were first allowed on the medical wards wed be given a list of patients with interesting
signs examine Mr Smiths liver, listen to Mrs Browns heart (to detect a murmur) or palpate Mr
Greens enlarged kidneys. It is important that students gain these clinical skills, but it is easy to lose sight
of the human beings who are enduring the many indignities of being in hospital. This was the opposite
of what I, and many other doctors, regard as a holistic approach approaching patients (and I will use
this dubious term for the moment) as a whole rather than dismembered parts.

There was also criticism of the trend towards specialization and superspecialization, where each
speciality had no idea of what was going on in other specialities. It was, theoretically, the General
Practitioner, or GP who looked after the primary care of patients in the community (the public),
coordinating the general healthcare of each individual in society. This was the theory then, and it is still
the basic paradigm of healthcare in Australia today. The problem is that GPs are trained first in a
splintered view of the body and mind in university followed by splintered post-graduate studies in the
public and private hospital systems, which are associated with a splintered network of universities, rival
drug companies and assorted vested interests. Health is big money, and big profits are to be had.
Diagnosing and treating diseases around the world is a multi-billion dollar industry, in which GPs play a
key role. This is why, when I was working as a GP in Melbourne, the drug companies inundated me with
so much drug-promotional literature, samples and prescribing incentives, that I started refusing to see
reps, except when I was particularly interested in the drug they were selling. It was only after I had been
working as a GP for decade that I started realising how splintered and limited my training at university
and the hospitals had been, and how poorly it had equipped me for the essentially holistic task of
healing rather than indefinitely treating. What was needed was for me to integrate the splinters of
knowledge I had about disease, health and healing and integrate this with what I knew about anatomy
and physiology. My knowledge in all these areas was full of big holes, but I had studied rudiments of all
of them at university and gathered other knowledge through my three years of hospital training (mostly
in paediatrics) and many years in general practice, mostly as family doctor in Melbourne.

This tendency to splintering is inherent in the medical system, reflecting a historical division in Western
medicine between surgery and medicine. My degree was termed a bachelor of medicine and surgery,
and from the time of my hospital internship I had the choice of steering towards either medicine or
surgery. If I chose paediatrics, I could become either a paediatrician or a paediatric surgeon; the two
disciplines were necessarily separate. The knowledge and skills required for good surgery and
orthopaedics is very different to the knowledge and skills required to be a good physician, though both
medicine and surgery benefit from what are called bedside manners. When I worked in the hospitals
in the 1980s surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons in particular were notorious for having poor bedside
manners, while physicians prided themselves on having good bedside manners as well as superior
clinical skills. This was not necessarily the case. Some of the medical professors had neither knowledge
nor clinical skills, but had climbed the ladder in order of seniority over the years. Some of the surgeons
were not only rude to their patients but they were also dangerously incompetent by todays standards. I
have been assured that the situation has changed, maybe it has. I think doctors are generally more
polite than they used to be in the past, when the doctors gave orders which the patients were
expected to comply with if they were to be judged good patients. Old habits die hard, though, and in
some areas of medicine such as psychiatry, authoritarianism is still the order of the day. This is the
opposite of what I mean by holistic medicine, which is focused on the whole human being mind, body
and (dare I say it?) spirit.

Wikipedia has this to say about Holistic Health:

The holistic concept in medical practice, which is distinct from the concept in alternative
medicine, upholds that all aspects of people's needs including psychological, physical and social
should be taken into account and seen as a whole. A 2007 study said the concept was alive and
well in general medicine in Sweden.

Some practitioners of holistic medicine use alternative medicine exclusively, though sometimes
holistic treatment can mean simply that a physician takes account of all a person's
circumstances in giving treatment. Sometimes when alternative medicine is mixed with
mainstream medicine the result is called "holistic" medicine, though this is more commonly
termed integrative medicine.

According to the American Holistic Medical Association it is believed that the spiritual element
should also be taken into account when assessing a person's overall well-being.

Wikipedia the makes the startling claim, from the American Cancer Society website that, Holistic health
is a diverse field in which many techniques and therapies are used. Practitioners of alternative
approaches may include many methods including colon therapy, metabolic therapy and orthomolecular

There is nothing holistic or scientific about colon therapy, metabolic therapy or orthomolecular
medicine, and most of what is passed off as holistic by the plethora of alternative medicine
practitioners is not what I mean by holistic. I mean merely that the whole is greater than the parts that
constitute it, when it comes to living organisms and ecosystems, and that reductionism is of value only
when it is integrated to gain a whole picture. Reductionism is vital for science, but so is holism. This is
the case for ecology, and also the case for human biology and psychology. We gain much information by
looking at the detail down to the molecular and atomic level, but unless this information is integrated
into a whole we cannot hope to understand biology, which is intrinsically holistic on many levels. Biology
is also based on individuals; individual bodies with individual minds which are subjected to the forces of
natural selection and artificial selection, as well as the interventions of intended healers. Some of these
healers are medically trained, others are not. Some are deluded about their ability to heal. Some are
realistic about their limitations. Some do actually heal. Some heal but only call it treatment or cure
rather than healing. When I trained as a doctor it was not regarded as acceptable to call oneself a
healer. This term was reserved for quacks and religious cranks.

The definition of Holistic Medicine by the Canadian Holistic Medical Association is closer to what I mean
as holistic medicine and reads as follows:
Holistic medicine is a system of health care which fosters a cooperative relationship among all
those involved, leading towards optimal attainment of the physical, mental emotional, social
and spiritual aspects of health.

It emphasizes the need to look at the whole person, including analysis of physical, nutritional,
environmental, emotional, social, spiritual and lifestyle values. It encompasses all stated
modalities of diagnosis and treatment including drugs and surgery if no safe alternative exists.
Holistic medicine focuses on education and responsibility for personal efforts to achieve balance
and well being.

This Canadian website touches on the confusion I have encountered over the years.

Other Terms Associated with Holistic Medicine

Alternative Medicine is often used by the general public and some healthcare practitioners to
refer to medical techniques which are not known or accepted by the majority "conventional" or
"allopathic" medical practitioners (usually M.D.'s). Such techniques could include non-invasive,
non-pharmaceutical techniques such as Medical Herbalism, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Reiki,
and many others. However, the term Alternative Medicine can also refer to any experimental
drug or non-drug technique that is not currently accepted by "conventional" medical
practitioners. As non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical techniques become popular and accepted by
large number of "conventional" practitioners, these techniques will no longer be considered
Alternative Medicine.

Alternative Medicine refers to techniques that are not currently accepted by "conventional"
practitioners, but what is currently accepted is quickly changing. Even the definition of
"conventional practitioners" is quickly changing. Therefore, techniques that are now considered
part of Alternative Medicine will soon be considered part of "conventional" medicine. The terms
Holistic Healing and Holistic Medicine are slightly more stable than Alternative Medicine and are
therefore preferable.

Complementary Medicine is often used by "conventional" medical practitioners to refer to non-

invasive, non-pharmaceutical techniques used as a complement to "conventional" medical
treatments such as drugs and surgery. The term implies that "conventional" medicine is used as
a primary tool and the non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical techniques are used as a supplement
when needed.

In many cases, properly chosen non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical healing techniques plus
properly chosen lifestyle changes can completely and safely heal both acute and chronic
illnesses. In other cases, "conventional" medicine is only needed in emergencies or when the
safer non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical methods fail. In some cases "conventional" medicine
will be a major part of a Holistic Healing Plan, but in some cases it is not needed at all.

According to Wikipedia:
Natural Healing usually refers to the use of non-invasive and non-pharmaceuticals techniques
to help heal the patient. When most people use the term Natural Healing, they are usually
referring to physical healing techniques only.

What is physical healing?

When I checked on Google the only thing that came up for physical healing was the power of prayer,
where the contrast is between physical healing from spiritual healing (whatever that means). There are
also assorted websites talking about Tibetan Buddhism and mind-body techniques for self-healing. Again
they are talking about healing the physical body (as opposed to the mind) and not any particularly
physical treatment, such as physiotherapy or massage.

I am interested in understanding natural healing mechanisms in order to promote natural healing. By

this I mean non-interventional treatments, avoiding the use of drugs or surgery (both of which carry
risks). This seems like sensible clinical medicine to reassure patients that they will get better by
themselves (or that there is nothing wrong with them if indeed there is nothing wrong them). There
are many things people can do to speed this process of recovery up, and other things they may do which
slow the recovery down, but even untreated, many maladies are temporary and are healed by the body
in time. It is these healing processes that I am most interested in, with the related question of what
suggestions can be made, in the course of a consultation, to promote, rather than hinder these natural
healing mechanisms.

In my experience there are several difficulties with promoting a non-interventional approach in

medicine. Patients come to their doctors for many reasons. Sometimes it is to check if they are ill in the
first place. What is sometimes called a check-up. Sometimes they already know or think they know
what is wrong with them, and have a clear idea what drug or other treatment they are after (such as a
skin cancer removed, or a wound sutured). At other times they present with symptoms of which they
are uncertain, regarding the cause or seriousness of their illness (whether it is, to use a common phrase,
something to worry about). This is where sound scientific knowledge and clinical experience is
essential. Experience is necessary to recognise what is normal from what is abnormal, and the difference
between normality and health. What is normal, meaning common or usual, is not the same as what is
healthy. Reassurance without carefully checking for serious disease is irresponsible and dangerous. On
the other hand instilling pessimism and hopelessness, or causing unnecessary worry are known to be
detrimental to short term and long-term health. It is a fine balance that is necessary and this balance
should be based on a sound understanding of human biology and psychology in sickness and health. The
medical tradition has been, for obvious reasons, focused on sickness, hoping that identifying and
treating sickness with drugs and surgery will lead to health (taken to mean the absence of illness).

The big change in medicine over the three decades since I graduated, is the increased role of so-called
preventive medicine, when risk factors for various diseases (especially heart disease) are identified and
treated. This is a very costly business for governments, since cholesterol-lowering and blood-pressure
lowering drugs are expensive. There are also various early detection and screening programs,
especially for cancer. These programs are all supported by statistical studies, though questions have
been raised about conscious and unconscious bias in these studies, and the ubiquitous role of the
pharmaceutical industry in driving medical research and publications. I say so-called, because
preventative medicine often causes needless fear, anxiety and expense, which are experienced as stress.
Stress in turn is known to cause or worsen a range of medical problems, as well as often being a mental
problem in itself.

Words are powerful tools. Words can heal, but words can also kill. They dont kill straight away except
when orders are given to behead, bomb or shoot someone, but words can be intentionally or
unintentionally harmful to the health. In the mouths of trusted and respected people the power of
words and phrases increases. When many people use particular words or phrases, particular memes,
they grow further in power and influence, for good or ill. Increasing awareness of ADD,
schizophrenia or Alzheimers Disease does nothing to promote the health of society, though it may
get many people into experimental drug treatment programs. Likewise campaigns to increase
awareness of depression, which has been a bonanza for the drug companies and the sales of Prozac and
other SSRI drugs.

On the other hand early diagnosis of some diseases what I regard as real diseases is important and
saves many lives. Breast self-examination for women, looking for early breast cancer and knowledge of
the signs of breast cancer; knowing that cardiac pain is usually felt as a dull heavy or crushing pain in the
chest, rather than a sharp pain, and may not be severe to be serious is essential knowledge that should
be passed on to patients by their doctors if they hadnt already been taught this at school or by their
parents (which is, in fact very unlikely, despite the millions of lives this simple knowledge could save). It
is essential that patients know that abnormal bleeding from any orifice needs medical attention, though
most dont need reminding of this, and worry about it automatically (though they may be reluctant to
seek medical advice). I have mixed feelings about immunization, cholesterol screening and PAP smears,
though I am generally in support of PAP smears done by experienced doctors who will not over-treat. It
is the same with immunizations. I do believe in immunization as a preventive measure but am
concerned at the increased number of antigen assaults we are subjecting our children to, and worry
about possible long-term chronic risks such as autoimmune disease and chronic arthritis. I am not
concerned about mercury and other additives in vaccines, or the supposed association between autism
and vaccination; I think the documented increase in autism diagnosis can be more reasonably attributed
to broader criteria for application of the label, and increased popularity of the diagnosis.

My reservations about cholesterol screening are also centred on over-treatment, and the vested
interests of drug companies. The statin drugs are effective in lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL
cholesterol and I accept that high LDL is associated with the development of atherosclerosis and high
HDL has a protective effect when it comes to heart disease. I also remember how, as soon as the meme
that high cholesterol causes heart disease caught on in the 1980s, the big chemist stores were offering
on-the-spot blood tests to measure the cholesterol of the customers, with the hope of selling them
products that had been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol (this was before the development
and release of the statins, which do actually do this, as I have found from my own clinical experience). It
was only later that the mainstream started talking about good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol.
What was not promoted by the drug reps who visited me to encourage me to prescribe their particular
brand of statin drug, was the non-drug methods of lowering LDL and raising HDL cholesterol. These
were, of course, behavioural changes changes in diet and activities.

Much has been written about the dietary changes that can be made to raise HDL (such as more whole
grains and fish) and lower LDL (reduction of saturated fats and fats generally) with various fads coming
and going. I havent kept up with these fads, and have little interest in diet, though I do recognise that it
is very important. It is one of the gaps in my knowledge that I hope to address in the fullness of time. In
the meantime I am drinking a cup of coffee and pondering the broader physiology and metabolism of
cholesterol and how it relates to the healing mechanisms I have mentioned, but not expanded on.

Cholesterol is an essential molecule for

In researching cholesterol, and reading the Wikipedia entry on this fascinating molecule, I discovered
the existence of the International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics. Before visiting their site I read what
their enemies had to say about them. I dont always do this, but I chose to do so on this occasion. It was
on a website called Science-Based Medicine, which promised to explore issues and controversies in
science and medicine. The author, Harriet Hall, doesnt like the International Network of Cholesterol
Skeptics at all:

The cholesterol skeptics website rejects the consensus of medical science, saying that
consensus is politics, not science. I beg to differ. Consensus based on opinion is politics.
Consensus based on the evidence is an integral part of the scientific enterprise: when the
evidence is convincing, the majority will be convinced.

Dissent, debate, and questioning the status quo are important in keeping science honest, but
science doesnt advance through activist groups like this. We didnt need an X-Ray Skeptics
group to realize that routine annual chest x-rays were a bad idea; we saw the evidence and
stopped x-raying everybody.

We are still struggling to understand all the ins and outs of preventing cardiovascular disease.
Current guidelines have been criticized because they are often based on extrapolations and on
insufficient data about actual outcome. A letter to the editor of the American Family Physician
compared guidelines in six different countries, and found that the American guidelines would
save a few more lives but only at much greater expense: 198 patients treated at an expense of
over $198,000 to prevent one death. Im sure weve gotten some things wrong, and our present
approach will surely be revised as we continue to learn. But to reject the cholesterol connection
and statins entirely is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In my opinion, THINCS is
spreading misinformation that could lead patients to refuse treatment that might prolong their
life or at least prevent heart attacks and strokes.

THINCS is the thoughtful acronym the The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics have chosen for
themselves. It has provoked my curiosity, given what Harriet Hall, a vigorous defender of statin use,
claims are the arguments of the sceptics that one can lower cholesterol too much, causing neuronal
damage and other health problems in the elderly, and that these drugs may also cause cancer with long-
term use, in addition to the common side-effect of muscle pains. Maybe I have been too hasty to comply
with consensus opinion of doctors rather than the hard scientific data the evidence.

Cochrane Collaboration on cholesterol-lowering drugs:

Steven Novella writing on Science Based Medicine website:

This recent Cochrane review of statin use for primary prevention supports the conclusion that
statins are safe and effective in reducing vascular events and overall mortality even in primary
prevention. The benefits are statistically small, which is expected for a preventive measure in a
low risk population. It is still unclear where to draw the line in terms of which patients should
receive statins, but these data will help practitioners and patients make individualized decisions
about cholesterol management and vascular prophylaxis.

Because this is ultimately a judgment call, the results of this study can be spun to a variety of
conclusions. The study authors chose to present an overall negative conclusion that the effect
size is too small to be worth it. While other experts, looking at the same data, have come to the
opposite conclusion that statins are worth it. It is important to emphasize that the debate is
not about whether or not statins have a real effect they do, but about the cost-benefit of
statins as an intervention for primary prevention.

One could also argue that Cochrane reviewers, given that their purpose is to provide objective
and thorough reviews of existing evidence for specific clinical questions, should take a more
neutral approach to interpreting the data. This is not the first Cochrane review discussed on
SBM that can be criticized for taking a decidedly biased approach to the evidence in their
conclusions. This should prompt some soul-searching, in my opinion, on the pat [sic] of the
Cochrane collaboration.

So whos behind SBM Science Based Medicine?

The benefits of natural medicine have been well documented. We can complement or act as an
alternative to conventional treatments. The essential difference is that natural medicine aim to
stimulate and strengthen the body's immune system. So you fight what ails you, by building your
defences. When required we combine our treatment with counselling, on all levels, helping you to cope
with life and giving you the mental strength to realise your health potential.

Here is a brief description of the main form of natural medicine we offer:

Treatment modalities provided at Brisbane Holistic Health, three centres of which have opened in the
past 20 years:

ACUPUNCTURE: A 2000 year tradition of the Chinese. We stimulate neural points to treat muscular pain,
and various acute and chronic disorders and diseases.

HOMEOPATHY: A 19th century German orthodox medicine that uses the vaccination principle to trigger
the body's immune system response.

MEDICAL HERBALISM: A treatment that combine traditional herbalism with modern clinical training and
diagnostic skills.

NATUROPATHY: A combination of these and other natural therapies for more holistic treatment.

LIFESTYLE & DIETARY ADVICE: Treatment involving dietary changes to boost immunity, this with healthy
lifestyle planning to create a general well-being.

The main focus of Brisbane Holistic Health is on massage, spas and saunas, catering for the rich, and
seeking corporate clients.

Promoting disease and promoting health are opposites. What about promoting disease awareness?
When does promoting disease awareness become, in practice, promoting disease? There have been
many examples of doctors telling a patient that they would be dead in six months, but the patient has
been alive years later.

One event I remember clearly was the death of our dog Smoky, when I was 13.
Charles M Schultzs Peanuts cartoons made beagles famous around the world, but I got to know a
delightful beagle personally before I was introduced to the world of Snoopy, Linus and Charlie Brown.
When we arrived in Kandy from England in 1968, when I was eight, our first pet was a beagle, a special
breed that was said to be blue. My uncle Terence was breeding these hounds as attractive, friendly
pets rather than hunting dogs (they are smaller and have a grey and brown rather than black and brown
coat). We called him Smoky because he was not what could reasonably be defined as blue. The blue
beagle puppy pictured above seems to have blue eyes, but I remember Smokys as being brown.

I loved Smoky as much as I loved any human, when I was a child living in Sri Lanka and attending high
school in the hill town of Kandy. When Smoky was run over by a bus, when I was 13, I cried for hours. I
could not stop sobbing; it was uncontrollable. I just lay on my bed and sobbed for hours. I had never
wept like this before, and I have never wept like it in the four decades since then (despite many times I
have been moved to tears over the years). This was a different level of grief I was devastated. Then I
got angry. I blamed my new school-friend who had visited me at home to play for the first time, and
whom Smoky had followed down the hill to the main road, where he had been run over by the bus. I
never spoke to him again. Then I blamed the guy in charge of it all God.

Of course I could have blamed myself; maybe deep inside that was indeed what I was doing, when I
projected my anger against my school-friend. I never thought to blame the bus driver or my dog Smoky;
instead I blamed the poor boy that Smoky followed down the hill. I thought he should have brought him
or led him back, rather than letting him walk onto the main road (which was about 200 metres down a
winding road that led up to our house, along which Smoky did not usually venture). I didnt think about
the tragedy rationally; I was driven by overwhelming emotion.

As far as I can recall, after sobbing for a few hours I was able to get control of the actual sobbing and
recuperate from the trauma of the sudden loss. In medical school, years later, I learned about normal
phases of grief, including anger and projection. The experience, the most emotionally devastating event
in my life till then, taught me something about what it feels like to lose someone you love; for to me
Smoky was someone not something.

I gathered some consolation from the idea that Smoky was in heaven, since he was clearly an innocent
and good-natured dog. It did not cross my mind that dogs do not have souls; if humans went to heaven
when they died, life in heaven would be empty without dogs, cats, birds and butterflies. My concept of
heaven was of a place much like earth, but without mosquitoes.

I knew about mosquitoes because I had been bitten by them. When we first arrived in Sri Lanka from
England where I was born and spent my early years, every bite would erupt into an itchy blister. After a
few months this stopped, and I stopped reacting to the bites so dramatically, but I developed an early
dislike of these little creatures and absolutely failed to see why God would create such pests.

When I was eleven my mother showed me how to recognise malaria parasites in white blood cells under
the microscope and I learned about the life-cycle of the malaria parasite and how mosquitoes spread
the disease. I was told that malaria causes more illness and death than any other infectious disease, and
that it was only with the use of DDT after the Second World War, that Sri Lanka was able to largely
eradicate malaria. This increased my belief that mosquitoes were evil and they must therefore be the
work of the Devil. I had a clear polarity in my mind between what was good God and what was evil
the Devil.

When I was ten I noted in my journal a problem that had been on my mind. Maybe someone had asked
me; maybe I thought of it myself. Why does God not get rid of the Devil? I asked my mother, as well as
the school priest, Reverend Nallathamby. They gave rather different answers, which led me in rather
different directions. My mother gave the same answer that she gave to explain the 6 days of creation in
the Book of Genesis one day for God is many years for humans. This was a curious answer. Did this
mean that God hadnt noticed yet and was talking his time to get rid of evil? The school padre gave me
the standard Protestant apologist answer that man is given free will. This did not answer the puzzling
problem of mosquitoes the evil of mosquitoes is not caused by man applying his free will in an evil
way. What about earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters what they call Acts of God? Why
does God do these horrible acts? Why does God kill nice dogs like Smoky and spare all the nasty dogs
that bite people?
One of the big gaps in my knowledge is the deliberations and arguments of Western philosophers. I have
never read the writings of the men (and few) women who are widely regarded as great, or influential
philosophers. The Internet is helping me gain a bit more understanding of what theyve been arguing
about over the centuries, and this book is my attempt to reconcile what I believe about science,
medicine and health with my limited understanding of philosophical discourse and jargon. Frankly, I
cant understand their verbal arguments at times any more than I can understand quantum

Evolution and the principles of biology and chemistry are complex, but I find them much easier to
understand. This may be because they are essentially mechanistic and it is easy to think in a mechanistic
way. It is a natural way to think about things effects have causes, and one can logically ascertain at
least some of these causes. I cant think of anything happening without a cause, and in this sense I am
both a mechanist and a rationalist. It least I am, at this point in time, though it might change. It might
change even while writing this book.

Let me clarify what I mean by mechanist, but first Id better check what the philosophers define
mechanism as. Theres no better place to start than Wikipedia:

Mechanism is the belief that natural wholes (principally living things) are like complicated
machines or artifacts, composed of parts lacking any intrinsic relationship to each other. Thus,
the source of an apparent thing's activities is not the whole itself, but its parts or an external
influence on the parts. The doctrine of mechanism in philosophy comes in two different flavors.
They are both doctrines of metaphysics, but they are different in scope and ambitions: the first
is a global doctrine about nature; the second is a local doctrine about humans and their minds,
which is hotly contested. For clarity, we might distinguish these two doctrines as universal
mechanism and anthropic mechanism.

Wikipedia continues to say that:

There is no constant meaning in the history of philosophy for the word Mechanism. Originally,
the term meant that cosmological theory which ascribes the motion and changes of the world to
some external force. In this view material things are purely passive, while according to the
opposite theory (i. e., Dynamism), they possess certain internal sources of energy which account
for the activity of each and for its influence on the course of events; These meanings, however,
soon underwent modification. The question as to whether motion is an inherent property of
bodies, or has been communicated to them by some external agency, was very often ignored.
With a large number of cosmologists the essential feature of Mechanism is the attempt to
reduce all the qualities and activities of bodies to quantitative realities, i. e. to mass and motion.
But a further modification soon followed. Living bodies, as is well known, present at first sight
certain characteristic properties which have no counterpart in lifeless matter. Mechanism aims
to go beyond these appearances. It seeks to explain all "vital" phenomena as physical and
chemical facts; whether or not these facts are in turn reducible to mass and motion becomes a
secondary question, although Mechanists are generally inclined to favour such reduction. The
theory opposed to this biological mechanism is no longer Dynamism, but Vitalism or Neo-
vitalism, which maintains that vital activities cannot be explained, and never will be explained,
by the laws which govern lifeless matter.

One of the first and most famous expositions of universal mechanism is found in the opening
passages of Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (1651). What is less frequently appreciated is that
Ren Descartes was a staunch mechanist, though today, in Philosophy of Mind, he is
remembered for introducing the mindbody problem in terms of dualism and physicalism.

Descartes was a substance dualist, and argued that reality was composed of two radically
different types of substance: extended matter, on the one hand, and immaterial mind, on the
other. Descartes argued that one cannot explain the conscious mind in terms of the spatial
dynamics of mechanistic bits of matter cannoning off each other. Nevertheless, his
understanding of biology was thoroughly mechanistic in nature:

"I should like you to consider that these functions (including passion, memory, and
imagination) follow from the mere arrangement of the machines organs every bit as
naturally as the movements of a clock or other automaton follow from the arrangement
of its counter-weights and wheels." (Descartes, Treatise on Man, p.108)

His scientific work was based on the traditional mechanistic understanding that animals and
humans are completely mechanistic automata. Descartes' dualism was motivated by the
seeming impossibility that mechanical dynamics could yield mental experiences.

"Mechanism" in Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)

Given this definition I already have doubts as to whether I want to be a mechanist. But is the Catholic
Encyclopedia misrepresenting Descartes and the position of mechanism. What is the alternative to
mechanism vitalism? Dynamism or neo-vitalism? What do all these isms mean, and is the only
alternative to agree with Descartes that living organisms are automatons?

I have read experts on Descartes saying that he is frequently misunderstood. One such
misunderstanding was Descartes famous claim that the pineal organ in the brain was the seat of the soul
the point at which the soul communicated with the body. I read some years ago that though he has
often been ridiculed for this apparently absurd claim, Descartes was clear that the soul could not be
localised to any one part of the body and suffused the whole person. At the same time I have read many
times that Descartes is to blame for mind-body dualism in the West, and that the Eastern traditions
were not marred by such dualism. I cannot read French and cannot be bothered reading the English
translations of Descartes works at this stage, but I have a feeling that the Catholic Encyclopedia says is
not correct to say that that Descartes thought that humans are completely mechanistic automata. If
that were the case there would be no function for the rational soul, which Descartes obviously believed
I havent read any of Aristotles work either (nor of any of the other great Greek philosophers, other
than a smattering of Platos Republic) but I gather, again from the Internet that the famous philosopher
theorised that there are three components to the soul the nutritive, sensitive and rational souls. Plants
have only a nutritive soul, allowing them to grow and reproduce, animals have a sensitive soul as well,
but only humans have a rational soul (as well as a nutritive soul and sensitive soul). I can see merit in this
view, so I might take it as a starting point in my investigation into the mind, soul, consciousness and

What is a rational soul and are dogs rational? Are butterflies rational, for that matter? Do butterflies
have souls? What is a soul, exactly?

Beagles were originally bred as hunting hounds, mainly by English gentlemen to hunt rabbits and foxes.
They have been engineered to have a medium size, with long, soft ears, a cute face and friendly, even
disposition to humans (including children) making them popular pets.

Knowledge of breeding animals to develop desired traits was acquired by various cultures in ancient
times, and was further developed in the Middle Ages. There were Siamese cats, and different Burmese
and Tibetan breeds, and Pekingese dogs in China. In the West there was a profusion of dog breeds,
widely different in size, shape and temperament. This was known long before Darwin developed his
theory of evolution of species by natural selection. Evolution of different breeds (with different
appearance) using deliberate or unnatural selection was assumed knowledge.

It is only recently that I have realised the controversy about evolution, science and religion. In Australia
it is not a matter that is discussed much. I had assumed that everyone sensible believed in the basic
tenets of evolution by natural selection. Having watched a number of debates on the matter and
watching with some amusement the antics of the British biologist Richard Dawkins, I gather that this is
not the case. A surprising number of people dont believe in evolution.

These debates have made me realise that evolution is something I am deeply interested in, but had
assumed was quite compatible with religious beliefs. I myself rejected organized religion when I was in
my teens, but I remained interested in religions and religious traditions. I regarded the holy books of
various religions (none of which I could understand in their native languages) as based on myths rather
than true history. But what is true history? How true are the histories of various nations and the history
of the English nation and the English language? Who wrote who writes this history?

Of course there are many versions of history, but in my view there is only one true history what
actually happened. No recollection or recording made by the few literate men and women of history is
exactly what happened, but with improved technology we are getting closer and closer to developing
methods of recording reality for posterity. The development of photography was one such achievement,
and I am a great fan of the art and science of photography. Photography has transformed science, from
studies of the cosmos to studies of the tiny organelles in cells. Film and video recording transformed it

The Internet is one tool that was devised perhaps more with control and capitalism in mind than
emancipation that has truly revolutionized knowledge. I am a true believer in the benefits of the
Internet, because I remember how difficult self-directed research was before the Age of the Internet.
Though it is often criticised, I am also a big admirer of Wikipedia. I think Wikipedia is a great place to
start when investigating a topic, but should never be where you stop if you want to know the truth.

This is where things get difficult. How do you know if what Wikipedia says is true? That, of course,
depends on the quality of the references, which can be followed easily enough. But how reliable are the
references? That depends on the subject, and I have found wild disparities in how accurate the
Wikipedia entries are in areas in which I have some knowledge. Wikipedia reflects mainstream
thinking. Fortunately, mainstream thinking in science is mostly reasonable, though mainstream thinking
in politics and religion is not. Mainstream thinking in history depends on whether it is the mainstream in
India, Brazil, Russia, the USA, Canada, Nigeria, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Sri Lanka or Australia,
to some degree, but there are certain historical facts that people around the world agree on. There are
more facts that academics agree on than in the general public, though there are key differences in
historical perspective between historians of different nations.

There is general consensus that Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic in 1492 and the general
accounts of Columbuss voyages as recorded at the time. Likewise there is general consensus about the
arrival of Captain James Cook in what he called Botany Bay in 1770, and that his sailed on the good ship
Endeavour. By 1770 the historical record was quite dependable in some respects, so we can be
confident that the ships naturalist was Joseph Banks, who collected biological specimens to take back to
London, where they would be studied at the Natural History Museum and experts at Cambridge and
Oxford. This was the distinctly European way of studying nature. Shoot it or catch it in a net, kill it as
painlessly as possible, and collect its carcass to study in a large room full of other such carcasses, before
dissecting the specimen and examining every part of it carefully under the microscope. All the great
naturalists were collectors who had their own personal collections of butterflies, fossils, shells, beetles
and other treasures. The Victorian fascination with collecting pretty things extended to pretty insects,
especially butterflies and stuffed tropical birds. New Guineas gorgeous birds of paradise and birdwing
butterflies were favourites, resulting in subsequent laws to protect these species. Other favourites were
the brightly coloured day-flying moths of Madagascar, which found their way into glass display cabinets
designed for the fashionable walls of Victorian gentlemens homes.

These displays of butterflies fell out of favour with a changing aesthetic and morality about displaying
dead animals as decorations. In Victorian times it was fashionable for naturalists to go big game hunting
along with the other gentlemen and display the heads of wild animals as trophies. I took a dim view of
this, even when I was a child, but I made an exception when it came to my own trophy collecting. I did
not think of it as trophy collecting, and Im not sure that I do now either. Let me explain.
This is a famous passage from the pen of Alfred Russell Wallace, who collected butterflies in the Malay
Peninsula, Indonesia and New Guinea, following his voyage to the Amazon contributing to his
independent (from Darwin) development of the theory of evolution by natural selection:

I had taken about thirty species of butterflies, more than I had ever captured in a day since
leaving the prolific banks of the Amazon, and among them were many most rare and beautiful
insects, hitherto only known by a few specimens from New GuineaI had the good fortune to
capture one of the most magnificent insects the world contains, the great bird-winged butterfly,
Ornithoptera poseidon. I trembled in excitement as I saw it coming majestically towards me,
and could hardly believe I had really succeeded in my stroke till I had taken it out of the net and
was gazing, lost in admiration, at the velvet black and brilliant green of its wings, seven inches
across, its golden body, and crimson breast. It is true that I had seen similar insects in cabinets at
home, but it is quite another thing to capture such ones self to feel it struggling between
ones fingers, and to gaze upon its fresh and living beauty, a bright gem shining out amid the
silent gloom of a dark and tangled forest.

I can imagine Wallaces delight. I felt the same excitement when I caught a rare, beautiful butterfly as a
child. Unlike Wallace I outgrew it, and can see the moral absurdity of waxing lyrical about the beauty
and wonder of a beautiful creature you are about to kill, for no reason other than that it was
unfortunate enough to appeal to your aesthetic sense. Though I see this now as a moral absurdity, this
was indeed my mentality when I collected butterflies, shells and birds, under the impression that what I
was doing was scientific, because it was based on scientific identification and classification of the
animals. At the same time, my collections, and the observations I made when collecting butterflies, do
have some scientific value.

I only saw a TV cartoon of Snoopy after we came to Australia in 1976, when I was fifteen. During the
seven years we lived in Sri Lanka there was no TV, and a restriction on foreign luxury goods like
records and books. There were some English books for sale in the few English language bookshops in Sri
Lanka, of which there was only one in Kandy. Kandy, once the capital of the Hill Kingdom, and the last to
stand before Britain conquered the whole of Sri Lanka (the Ceylon) was surrounded by forest-covered
mountains, and others that had been cleared for cultivation. My favourite place in the world was
Udawattekele (which translates from Sinhalese as upper garden forest), where I was allowed, from the
age of 13, to venture to alone, armed only with my butterfly net and binoculars. Closer to home, and
during our trips around the island, I also took my air-gun. My twin obsessions were hunting butterflies
for my butterfly collection (with my net) and hunting birds for my feather collection (and attempts at
taxidermy). I had started with butterflies when I was eleven (when the whole family was involved in the
hobby) but had become increasingly interested in killing birds and shooting for the sheer pleasure of
hitting and killing the target. I even practiced by shooting butterflies on the wing, provided I was sure
that it was a common species. I had no real comprehension that what was a common species for me
in Sri Lanka could be a very rare and treasured species (or non-existent species) for butterfly collectors
in other parts of the world. I wasnt much interested in other parts of the world. My obsession was to
catch as many different species as I could, identify them and pin them out. This process had a ritual,
which became almost automatic. I would stalk the butterfly after seeking a likely environment for
butterflies, and use various attack strokes with my net (which I made myself, with the help of my
mother). I learned, through trial and error, different strokes of the net depending on the particular flight
patterns of different families and species, and whether the insect was on the wing, or settled on a leaf
or the ground. Different situations required different approaches, since, as I discovered, butterflies have
good eyesight.

Adding butterflies to my collection required me to kill them. My fathers friend Joyce, who introduced
the family to butterfly collecting, assured us that squeezing the thorax of the insect firmly kills it
without much pain. I assumed this to be the case until I started thinking about it. The more I hunted
butterflies with modified hunter gatherer instincts I observed more and more evidence that the
creatures I was hunting and killing were both sentient and likely to feel pain, though with enormous
differences from our own sentience and experience of physical and mental pain.

The research my parents were conducting into the fluoride content of drinking water enabled me to go
butterfly hunting all over the island, especially in the northern and eastern dry zones, where we usually
stayed at irrigation bungalows that had been established during colonial times, when the British had
started renovating the ancient irrigation works that had been built under the patronage of Sri Lankan
kings in ancient times. I never learned much about the history of these kings or the rice-centred
civilizations they ruled over, but I did discover, from the personal experience of hunting bird and
butterflies, that the fauna varies according to geography. Some butterflies could only be found in the
northern Jaffna peninsula, where they were common, but not found in the south. Many more were
found in the south and east but not in the south. When we visited Horton Plains, in the highest
mountain range, I collected Red Admirals (Vanessa Atalanta), which are found in in temperate Europe
and North America but whose range extends to the mountains (but only the mountains and not the
coast) of Sri Lanka.

My reference text for identifying butterflies and determining how rare they were, which was my foolish
preoccupation, was The Butterfly Fauna of Ceylon by L.G.O.Woodhouse, the former Surveyor-General of
Ceylon and was published by the Colombo Apothecaries Company. The second edition of this unique
reference text was published in 1949. The Butterfly Fauna of Ceylon records information about Sri
Lankan butterflies caught before 1949, and I noticed, when I was collecting the insects in the 1970s, that
some butterflies that were recorded as common were proving to be elusive. One whose name and
appearance in the book caught my imagination was the Monkey Puzzle. This is a photograph of this
beautiful butterfly by someone who has adopted a more humane way of studying butterflies than
catching them and suffocating them by squeezing their thorax.
Krishna Mohan is a photographer and educator in Moodabidri in the Karnataka State of India who is
leading the way in ethology, though he does not claim such a title. Ethology is a discipline that had
escaped my attention until very recently. I hadnt even heard the word, or that is the new scientific
discipline that studies animal behaviour.

This is his response to one of the interested readers on his photography website:

40% .

3 .

Its method of alighting is interesting as soon as it lands, it turns around and waggles its tail filaments, it
also sidesteps for a while all this is apparently to confuse a predator as to which side is the head. This
is a likely reason that the first naturalists may have named the species the Monkey Puzzle.

Learnin the lingo

Giddai, Howyagoin? the boy asked me, a few days after I arrived in Australia, and had started year 11
at Churchie, as I found my new school was fondly called by its students.

I had no idea what he was saying. What? I asked.

Giddai. You know, giddai, giddailike Hawaii!

I could see that he thought I was daft, or at best unable to comprehend English. What I could not
understand was Australian, and the uniquely Australian pronunciation of the old-fashioned English
greeting, Good Day. If you say good day to an Australian they will understand it, but they will also
recognise you as a foreigner. The Australian greeting is giddai, not gidday or gooday.

The appropriate response, if one wishes to be recognised as Australian and not English, is Im good.
The English response is, Im well. There is a difference between being well and being good, which I
have wondered about for many years. Did the Australian language betray its criminal heritage, where
the early colonists were eager to assure their neighbours that they were good, rather than assure them
about the state of their health?

Pissed and Fell Over (PFO) pissed: English - drunk, American angry.

Deadly The concert was deadly

Mob - where are your mob from?

Gins, lubras and picaninnys

Racist placenames in Queensland

In Queensland's Alton Downs, near Rockhampton, people are debating if they should rename Black Gin
Creek Road. White Australians used to call an Aboriginal woman a 'gin', often implying that they were
used for sexual services by the white men. Another 'Black Gin Creek Road' is near Bambaroo, 60kms
north-west of Townsville, Queensland. Nigger Creek near Wondecla, QLD, is yet another example.

The reason that people so ferociously advocate for keeping these racist beacons of Queensland's past
has a lot to do with the fact that many non-Indigenous Australians do not know what it feels like to be
called a 'gin' or a 'nigger' or a 'coon'.

Amy McQuire, Aboriginal journalist [22]

Amy Humphreys wrote in her 2008 social science honours thesis Representation of Aboriginal Women
and their Sexuality that: colonists who engaged in prolonged personal and sexual

relationships with Aboriginal women were called a gin-jockey or combo and were

rejected by white society as morally degraded individuals.

In the Queensland Figaro in 1883 one contributor remarked that


could, if necessary, tell of, and produce people who know of, hundreds

of instances where white savages have raped young maiden [sic] and

older gins ay, and boasted of their deeds vain-gloriously (14 April


Though asserted in these accounts, rape is not witnessed. Nonetheless it is still used to

highlight sexual exploitation, and more significantly the low status of Aboriginal
women in colonist society, with some according to Evans describing the rape of

Aboriginal women as gin busting (1982:15). Aboriginal womens sexuality was

defined by their sexual interactions with colonists, whose access to the wider colonial

discourse enabled them to construct and enforce their representation of sexual liaisons

with Aboriginal women. Aboriginal women however, had no such chance to represent

themselves. For Aboriginal women, their sexuality was degraded and debated within a

colonial Christian discourse that claimed perversion whilst enjoying the benefits of

their dispossession and resultant poverty (Evans 1982:7-12).

Evan, the source referenced in Amy Humphreys thesis is Queensland historian Professor Raymond
Evans, author of 1975 And the Nigger shall disappear :Aborigines and Europeans in Colonial
Quensland, in

Exclusion, Exploitation and Extermination: Race Relations in Colonial Queensland.

1982 Dont you remember Black Alice Sam Holt? Aboriginal Women in

Queensland History. In Hecate, 8(2.1):6-21.

Wiktionary: boong



First used by soldiers in New Guinea. Suggested sources are

Malay boong (brother),[1]

Indonesian dialectal bung (brother)

A New Guinea native language

An Aboriginal Australian language.[2]

Previously the word binghi was used widely in similar fashion to the present-day use of the term Negro
for peoples of African ancestry, see titles from this booklist and also writings of Xavier Herbert (e.g. in
Capricornia), for example.

1930-35; < Dyangadi (Australian Aboriginal language of Macleay River valley, E New South Wales) biay
elder brother.

Collins dictionary:
binghi (b)

(Australian, offensive, slang) an Aboriginal person


boong (plural boongs)

(Australia, slang, dated) A native of New Guinea.

(Australia, slang, very pejorative, ethnic slur) An Australian aboriginal.


(Asian or dark-skinned person): Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel

(aboriginal): abo, Jacky

1959, Xavier Herbert, Seven Emus, 2003, page 5 The term boong is originally Malayan, meaning
brother, but it doesn't mean anything like that in Australian usage.

From the Urban Dictionary:

Boong (114 up, 93 down)

Boong is a racist and derogatory word used to describe Aboriginal Australian people.
Contrary to what is already written, 'Boong' is derived from the word 'Boonga-boonga' which is actually
an Eastern Australian Aboriginal word (Eora and Cadigal People for example) that means arse or bum
and was originally used by the Aboriginal people as an insult to the colonisers.

Many Aborignal languages do not have swear words and, in Aboriginal Culture, the arse is the most
disgusting part of the body. The Aborignal People would taunt the europeans and call them Boonga's
(whilst flashing their black arses at them 'Braveheart ' movie style). Once the europeans realised what
they were being called they turned it around and began using the word to describe Aboriginal People.

This is accurate information which was sourced from my personal lecture notes as well as papers
studied at the Bankstown campus of the University of Western Sydney. Diploma in Indigenous
Community Studies, Issues in Aboirignal Education, Native Title in Australia.


"Hahaha look at these silly white boys, their muskets can't shoot as far as we can throw our spears, they
can't get us!" (Then while baring their arses) "Boonga boonga boonga hahaha!"

"These Gubba's are spreading disease all over the country, nothing but boonga-boonga's!"

by The ONLY educated one July 16, 2009

Boong (1171 up, 599 down top definition)

1.Native Australian 2.Person with flat, upturned nose. 3.Person used as target practice or human shield.
4.Dole bludger. 5.Ingestor of methylated spirits, bagged wine and insects. 6.Cave dweller. 7.Person who
lives like a bum or is dirty. 8.Semi-evolved being.


1.If it weren't for boongs, this country would be richer. 2.Lets throw another boong on the barbie.

by John Barry November 20, 2004

boong (660 up, 296 down)

A defamitory word used against Australian Aboriginals, refering to their race.


During the 1950's & 60's people would actualy chase Abiriginals off their propery with 4wd's, & it's
reported that 'boong' is the sound they make when they hit the bull bar.


Is that all those boongs do? sit in the city & scab cigarettes?

by cheffie0987 September 28, 2005

boong (431 up, 238 down)

derogatory term for a native australian, also known as aboriginal, abo and coon.

reputation of raiding petrol stations as a cheap way of getting high.


hey john man, don't sell the metho to that boong, he's just gonna drink it.

by random February 12, 2005

Boong (377 up, 267 down)

a dark colored australian primate with a flat nose and low forehead, normally found in the desert or
redfern.Diet is known to include 2 stroke oil as well as varoius items found in the trash.The word boong
originates from the sound they make when they bounce off your bumper or bonnet

Hell wazza that boong has gone and left a dent in my bonnet

by gook hunter October 29, 2006

1988, The Bulletin, Issues 5617-5625, page 121 They would doubtless have been amused to learn that
in New Guinea, where the term "boong" originated, it means "brother" and has a kinship with the
Indonesian "bung" and Thursday Island's "binghi".
Let me start with the school I was sent to by my parents, at considerable expense, in the belief that it
was the best boys school in Brisbane. This was debatable, even at the time, though the school had a
better academic record than it does nowadays. At the time I knew no better and assumed as the school
culture insisted, that it was not just the best school in Brisbane but the best school in Queensland. No
one was grandiose enough to suggest that it was the best school in the world, but there wasnt much
talk about the rest of the world. There was little talk of the rest of Queensland, either. Most of the
Australian language that I learned at school was about sport and science. I didnt talk much about girls
when I was at school, in fact I dont remember talking about them at all, though they were certainly on
my mind.

The main things that were on my mind when I first arrived in Australia, when I was 15, were butterflies. I
had been an obsessive collector of butterflies since I was 10, and had caught about 150 different species
from around Sri Lanka, when my parents had taken me on research trips, during which I added to my
growing collection. I was obsessed with catching new species and identifying them in The Butterfly
Fauna of Ceylon and ascertaining, on the basis of what Woodhouse had written to be the case, how rare
or common it was. I wanted to catch the rare ones.

According to the schools current (28.5.2015) website:

Churchies rich history and longstanding traditions date back to 1912 when William Perry French Morris
founded the School at Toowong, before establishing it on the present site in East Brisbane in 1918.
Canon Morris based the Schools ethos on the patron saint, St Magnus, a Viking Earl known for his Viking
strength of character and his qualities as an educated man with a Christian nature.

The School crest reflects the character of the Viking tradition the shield and battle axes stand for
Viking courage and the axes are crossed to signify self-sacrifice. Churchies core values of scholastic
attainment, personal development, spiritual awareness and community service build on the
characteristics and attributes displayed by St Magnus.

The Schools Viking tradition is reflected in many aspects of school life rowing boats are named after
Vikings; architecture represents Viking icons; and the Schools mascot, Eric, a Viking effigy makes regular
appearances at sporting events. In early days Canon Morris called on the boys to finish hard in all their
pursuits and this cry is often called on today. In Canon Morriss first address to parents he stated his aim
was to train characters as well as minds. He encouraged boys to take part in physical activity as well as
their studies.

I would have thought that the Vikings are more famous for slaughtering, raping and pillaging others than
self-sacrifice; and its hard to see how crossed axes signify self-sacrifice either. Im not sure that self-
sacrifice is such a good thing, anyway. Isnt it what all these jihadis think theyre doing when they strap
on suicide bombs and what the Tamil Tigers thought they were doing when they blew themselves up in
the hope of becoming martyrs?


Robert Sharwood will be released on November 8 after serving one year of a 33-month sentence for
sexually assaulting and sodomising a boy of 13 in Brisbane 30 years ago.

The Brisbane District Court was told last November that Sharwood, then a 30-year-old priest, groomed
and seduced the boy, picking him up at the bus stop most school days and having oral and masturbatory
sex with him on 300 occasions. Anglican church officials knew of Sharwood's pedophilia, but despite that
knowledge appointed him chaplain at the prestigious Brisbane Anglican private boys' school Churchie
from 1985 until 2002.

The Anglican church had counselled the priest, but allowed him to carry on as a priest and teacher at
Churchie short for Church of England Grammar School.

Who Invented the Scientific Method?

Martyn Shuttleworth (Freelance writer, British living in Greece)

The question of who invented the scientific method is extremely difficult to answer, simply because it is
difficult to pin down exactly where it started.

The scientific method evolved over time, with some of history's greatest and most influential minds
adding to and refining the process.

Whilst many point to Aristotle and the Greek philosophers as the prime movers behind the development
of the scientific method, this is too much of a leap.

Whilst the Greeks were the first Western civilization to adopt observation and measurement as part of
learning about the world, there was not enough structure to call it the scientific method.
It is fair to say that Aristotle was the founder of empirical science, but the development of a scientific
process resembling the modern method was developed by Muslim scholars, during the Golden age of
Islam, and refined by the enlightenment scientist-philosophers.

The Muslims and the Scientific Method

Muslim scholars, between the 10th and 14th centuries, were the prime movers behind the development
of the scientific method.

They were the first to use experiment and observation as the basis of science, and many historians
regard science as starting during this period.

Amongst the array of great scholars, al-Haytham (Alhazen 695-1040 AD) is regarded as the architect of
the scientific method. His scientific method involved the following stages:

Observation of the natural world

Stating a definite problem

Formulating a robust hypothesis

Test the hypothesis through experimentation

Assess and analyze the results

Interpret the data and draw conclusions

Publish the findings

These steps are very similar to the modern scientific method and they became the basis of Western
science during the Renaissance.

Al-Haytham even insisted upon repeatability and the replication of results, and other scholars added
ideas such as peer review and made great leaps in understanding the natural world.

Europe and the Renaissance

The question of who invented the scientific method shifts to Europe as the Renaissance began and the
wisdom of the Greeks and Arabs helped Europe out of the Dark Ages.

Roger Bacon (1214 - 1284) is credited as the first scholar to promote inductive reasoning as part of the
scientific method.

Here, findings from an experiment are generalized to the wider world, a process used by almost all
modern scientists. His version of the Islamic scientific method involved four major steps, which lie at the
root of our modern method.





This process continued with the Enlightenment, with Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626) and Descartes (1596 -
1650). Francis Bacon continued the work of his Renaissance namesake, strengthening the inductive
process. His method became:

Empirical Observations
Systematic Experiments

Analyzing Experimental Evidence

Inductive Reasoning

Bacon's inductive method was a way of relating observations to the universe and natural phenomena
through establishing cause and effect.

Descartes broke away from the model of induction and reasoning and again proposed that deduction
was the only way to learn and understand, harking back to Plato. His method was almost the reverse of

Establish First Principles

Deductive Reasoning


Mathematical Analysis

Reasoning Cycle - Scientific Research

Descartes believed that the entire universe was a perfect machine and that, if you knew the first
principles, derived from mathematical proofs.

As an example, he deduced that planets revolved around the sun because they were floating in a liquid
'ether' filling space!

Newton and the Modern Scientific Method

Any discussion about who invented the scientific method must include Isaac Newton, as the scientist
who refined the process into one that we use today.
He was the first to realise that scientific discovery needed both induction and deduction, a revolution in
the scientific method that took science into the modern age.

After Newton

There were many other great thinkers who refined the scientific method, including Einstein, Russell,
Popper and Feyerabend, amongst a whole host of other great thinkers.

However, it may no longer be correct to talk of the 'scientific method,' rather the 'Physics Method' or
the 'Psychology Method,' because each scientific discipline has started to use its own methodology and

However, it is an old quote, but Newton's statement that, 'If I see further, it is only because I stand upon
the shoulder of giants', is very apt when looking at who invented the scientific method.

All of these great thinkers, and many others beside, had a great influence upon determining the course
of modern science as we know it.

So, when you ask 'Who invented the Scientific Method?" the answer is no-one, as the scientific method
is in a state of constant evolution and modification.

Sadly, if you were looking for a simple answer that will fit into the short answer section of a test, you will
not find it here!


The Islamic Golden Age refers to the period in Islam's history during the Middle Ages when much of the
Muslim world was ruled by various caliphates, experiencing a scientific, economic, and cultural
flourishing.[1][2][3] This period is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid
caliph Harun al-Rashid (786 to 809) with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where
scholars from various parts of the world sought to translate and gather all the known world's knowledge
into Arabic.[4][5] It is said to have ended with the collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate with the Mongol
invasions and the Sack of Baghdad in 1258.[6] Several contemporary scholars, however, place the end of
the Islamic Golden Age to be around the 15th to 16th centuries.[1][2][3]

Starting in the 16th century, the opening of new sea trade routes by Western European powers to South
Asia and the Americas bypassed the Islamic economies, and led to colonial empires, greatly reducing the
Muslim world's prosperity.

The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or
correcting and integrating previous knowledge.[2] To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is
commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[3] The
Oxford English Dictionary defines the scientific method as "a method or procedure that has
characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation,
measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses."[4]

The scientific method is an ongoing process, which usually begins with observations about the natural
world. Human beings are naturally inquisitive, so they often come up with questions about things they
see or hear and often develop ideas (hypotheses) about why things are the way they are. The best
hypotheses lead to predictions that can be tested in various ways, including making further observations
about nature. In general, the strongest tests of hypotheses come from carefully controlled and
replicated experiments that gather empirical data. Depending on how well the tests match the
predictions, the original hypothesis may require refinement, alteration, expansion or even rejection. If a
particular hypothesis becomes very well supported a general theory may be developed.[1]

Scientific Sages and Certainty

I believe that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. I have faith in this. I am certain about it. I also realise
that the rising of the sun is something of an illusion. The sun appears to rise because of the rotation of
the earth. It rises only relative to my position. While it is rising to me, here in the Antipodes, its setting
on the opposite side of the world.
The famous philosopher of science, Karl Popper argued that just because the sun has risen every day in
the past does not mean you can be certain that the sun will rise again tomorrow. His argument was that
one cannot be 100% certain about anything, just closer to the truth, as various falsifiable alternative
hypotheses are disproved by observable, measurable evidence. This is the paradigm of science I was
trained to believe in that science is what scientists do when they use the scientific method, which
constitutes developing and then testing falsifiable hypotheses with empirical evidence. But what do all
these terms mean? I must admit I have never really considered them deeply. I just accepted Poppers
definition of science without even knowing who Karl Popper was, or why his definition of science was
taught to me at medical school.

Karl Popper (1902-1994), was an Austrian philosopher and psychoanalyst, who had a long and
distinguished career at the London School of Economics and University of London, where he played a
key role in shaping what scientists think science is in the West. According to Poppers definition,
scientific theories must be falsifiable to regard them as scientific. Thus things, including the rising of the
sun tomorrow, become very likely but never certain. Whether or not we should trust our belief that the
sun will rise tomorrow, and regard it as certain, on the basis of inductive reasoning, was questioned by

In Conjectures and Refutations (1963) the philosopher argued that:

The sun may have risen again after every past day of which we have knowledge, but this does
not entail that it will rise tomorrow. If someone says: 'Ah yes, but we can in fact predict the
precise time at which the sun will rise tomorrow from the established laws of physics, as applied
to conditions as we have them at this moment', we can answer him twice over. First the fact
that the laws of physics have been found to hold good in the past does not logically entail that
they will continue to hold good in the future. Second, the laws of physics are themselves general
statements which are not logically entailed by the observed instances, however numerous,
which are adduced in their support. So this attempt to justify induction begs the question by
taking the validity of induction for granted. The whole of our science assumes the regularity of
nature assumes that the future will be like the past in all those respects in which the natural
laws are taken to operate yet there is no way in which this assumption can be secured. It
cannot be established by observation, since we cannot observe future events. And it cannot be
established by logical argument, since from the fact that all past futures have resembled past
pasts it does not follow that all future futures will resemble future pasts.

Good philosophers raise questions that one hasnt thought of. I had assumed that everyone accepted
that the sun will rise tomorrow, and that this is accepted fact. It is a true, correct belief, and it is
reasonable and wise to have faith that the sun will rise. If one did not believe the sun would rise it would
likely lead to irrational, unreasonable thoughts and actions. It came as a surprise that Karl Popper,
whose sage advice I was trained to respect, argued otherwise.
Liz Williams published a series of articles in the Guardian in 2012 titled Karl Popper, the enemy of
certainty in which she explained:

The search for truth was, Popper considered, the strongest motivation for scientific discovery.
His role was to determine how we can ascribe truth to the claims made by science, religion and
politicsFollowing on from Hume and the latters rejection of induction, Popper took a stand
against an empiricist view of science, endeavouring to show via his rejection of verificationism,
and consequent espousal of falsificationism, how scientific theories progress.

The certainty of physicists in the mathematics of Newton had been apparently shaken by empirical
evidence supporting the relativity theories of Einstein. Popper saw a clear difference between the
physical sciences and the pseudo-science of psychology, in how physicists dealt with this new evidence.
Williams opines on Poppers new perspective, after he became disillusioned with Marxism and
psychoanalysis, both of which he had once considered scientific:

The scientist should reject theories when they are falsified. For instance, Einsteins theories
generate hypothetical consequences which, if shown to be false, would falsify the entire
theoretical structure on which they rest. Psychological theories, however, in their attempt to
explain all forms of human behaviour, can continually be shored up by subsidiary hypotheses.
Exceptions can always be found. On a Popperian model, psychology resembles magical thinking:
if an expected result does not manifest, explanations can be found which explain that failure
away, and thus the core theory remains intact. This, Popper considered, is a weak point the
theory cannot be properly tested if it is inherently unfalsifiable.

Popper migrated to England immediately after the Second World War (in 1946), after first migrating
from Austria to New Zealand (in 1937), where he had been lecturer in philosophy at the University of
New Zealand in Christchurch. It was here that he wrote his influential work The Open Society and its
Enemies. His denunciation of Marxism as pseudoscientific along with his similar denunciation of
Freudian (and Alderian) psychoanalysis, doubtless contributed to his popularity in Britain and its
Western capitalist allies, such as Australia, where Popper was the only philosopher who was mentioned
during my medical studies. In 1946, after the Second World War, he moved to England to become
reader in logic and scientific method at the London School of Economics. Three years later, in 1949, he
was appointed professor of logic and scientific method at the University of London.

While In New Zealand, Popper met the famous Australian neurophysiologist John Eccles, with whom he
speculated on the problem of free will. In 1984 they co-authored The Self and Its Brain: an argument for
interactionism. Free will has been one of the enduring problems of neuroscience, psychology and
philosophy, with some arguing that free will is an illusion, and others insisting on its importance. Im not
sure what interactionism is, other than it postulates mind-body dualism, where the mind and body are
separate, interacting entities. Or something along those lines.

Sir John Eccles was another great scientific mind and acknowledged modern sage, who won the Nobel
Prize in Medicine in 1963 for his role in the discovery of synaptic transmission in the brain. Eccles had
previously thought that all neuronal conduction was electrical, but his research with Bernard Katz
established the fact that acetyl choline (ACh) acts as a neurotransmitter, carrying signals across
synapses, the junctions between outgoing axons and incoming dendrites on nerve cells (neurons). This
discovery was fundamental to the modern development of biological psychiatry and neurology.

Rather curiously, Eccles regarded himself and all of us as spiritual beings. In a lecture on the Unity of
Conscious Experience in 1965 he ended with the words:

The primary data upon which I build everything even as a scientist is myself as a conscious
being and ultimately as a spiritual being. By virtue of our brains and the tremendous wealth of
input from sense organs and the muscles that our brains control, we receive from this world and
we give to this world as individuals, but each of us in a sense has a conscious existence as a
spiritual being apart from this world. Let me conclude by stating again that I believe there is a
great unknown mystery in each one of us, in every living person.

Popper revealed his views on religion only on the condition that his 1969 interview on the subject be
released only after his death. He criticised both organized religion and some forms of atheism which
are arrogant and ignorant and should be rejected. He sensibly argued that the whole thing goes back
to myths which, though they may have a kernel of truth, are untrue. Why then he asks, should the
Jewish myth be true and the Indian and Egyptian myths not be true?

Though I dont know a lot about him, in my view Popper was a sage and so was Eccles, but even sages
are fallible. According to the ancient Greeks, a sage was a philosopher who attained the wisdom they
sought. In the Greek tradition being a sage was a masculine pursuit, and all the people I think of as sages
are men. It helps if they have long white beards, but beards are not necessary since I also think of
Confucius, Gautama Siddhartha (the Buddha) and the monk Mahanama (the founder of the Jain religion)
as sages. I have no idea whether they wore beards, but I think of them as sages, nevertheless. I think
of the famed Islamic physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and the Belgian anatomist Andreas Vesalius as sages,
and Charles Darwin too (who had the added advantage of a long white beard). I think of sages as wise
old men, in other words. Wise, but fallible, old men.

I recently asked my 82-year old mother what she thinks sages are wise old men she answered. This
may be where I gained the idea. I asked her why she thought sages were all men, and what wise old
women were called. Witches, I suppose was her surprising answer. Surprising because she doesnt
believe in witches, and surprising because of the insight she showed into how wise women have been
regarded historically. She added the reason that there had been so many more prominent male than
female intellectuals in history was a reflection of relative educational opportunities for women, and the
fact that women have looked after the wise men and their children, while they made their names as

I do not think of Jesus of Nazareth or the prophet Mohammed as sages. Jesus because he did not live
long enough to gain the wisdom of years and Mohammed because the revelations he had do not
strike me as particularly wise. Another key difference between Jesus and Mohammed is that
Mohammed founded the Muslim religion as a reinterpretation of Christianity, which was already the
official religion of the Roman Empire; this was very different to the essentially pacifist, communalist
teachings of Jesus. Mohammed expanded his empire by personal conquest, the Christian Empires
expanded because of the military conquests of the Roman Empire. I do not think of the Emperor
Constantine as a sage, though some might. Im not too sure about King Solomon, and am loath to think
of Moses as a sage (though both were said by their followers to be wise and are usually depicted with
beards). Deciding on who and who is not a sage is a subjective decision, deciding on who, with my
subjective, mental retrospectoscope, I personally consider has been notably wise, in human history. But
I confine myself here to wise old men, and most of the wise people I have got to know well over the
years have not been men. They have been women.

As my mother wisely observed, wise women werent called sages they were called witches. The
wisdom of the wise women was called folk wisdom rather than Scientific Knowledge, which was
argued about by men in male-dominated universities. Witches were treated very differently to sages.
The wise women were wise because they were less inclined to argue than the cantankerous old men,
who wanted to win debates like they had when they were younger men. Old men sometimes grow
bitter and hardened, including old men in universities over the centuries. Some of these old men built
empires over which they could rule, pushing their cherished theories with all their argumentative might.
Max Planck famously observed that science advances one funeral at a time.

Max Planck was another acknowledged scientific sage, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918, for
his development of quantum theory. Quantum theory revolutionized human understanding of atomic
and subatomic processes, just as Albert Einsteins theory of relativity revolutionized the understanding
of space and time. Most people would accept that Einstein too was a sage, as well as a genius. Not all
sages are regarded as geniuses and many widely acknowledged geniuses did not live long enough to be
regarded as sages. Many geniuses are, in fact, children who are given the terms like prodigy or
gifted. Geniuses are clever, but they are not necessarily wise. But what is wisdom, and what is its
relationship to knowledge?

The word science is derived from the Latin scientia, meaning knowledge. Considering all of human
knowledge, scientific knowledge can be regarded only as a part, a small part. There is also historical
knowledge and philosophical knowledge, cultural knowledge and legal knowledge in addition to
religious knowledge and personal (and interpersonal) knowledge. All these types of knowledge have a
bearing on the acquisition of wisdom, which is as elusive for scientists, I suspect, as for anyone else.

Ive been trying to get my head around philosophical jargon, in order to gain some insights into and
understanding of wisdom. According to Wikipedia, the Austrian-British philosopher Karl Popper (1902 -
1994) is known for his rejection of the classical inductivist views on the scientific method, in favour of
empirical falsification: A theory in the empirical sciences can never be proven, but it can be falsified,
meaning that it can and should be scrutinised by decisive experiments. If the outcome of an experiment
contradicts the theory, one should refrain from ad hoc manoeuvres that evade the contradiction merely
by making it less falsifiable. Popper is also known for his opposition to the classical justificationist
account of knowledge which he replaced with critical rationalism, "the first non-justificational
philosophy of criticism in the history of philosophy."
What does this mean? What do inductivist and justificationist really mean? I assume that inductivist
means someone who uses inductive as opposed to deductive reasoning, but surely there is room,
indeed need, for both types of reasoning in scientific thinking? Both inductivist and justificationist
register with red lines on Microsoft Word spellcheck. Id never heard of justificationism until I read the
Wikipedia entry on Karl Popper. Maybe I, too, am a justificationist?

According to the Live Science website:

Inductive reasoning is the opposite of deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning makes broad
generalizations from specific observations. "In inductive inference, we go from the specific to the
general. We make many observations, discern a pattern, make a generalization, and infer an explanation
or a theory," Wassertheil-Smoller told Live Science. "In science there is a constant interplay between
inductive inference (based on observations) and deductive inference (based on theory), until we get
closer and closer to the 'truth,' which we can only approach but not ascertain with complete certainty."
Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, is a researcher and professor emerita at Albert Einstein College of

Does this mean that complete certainty is never justified?

According to Wikipedia: the theory of justification is a part of epistemology that attempts to

understand the justification of propositions and beliefs. Epistemologists are concerned with various
epistemic features of belief, which include the ideas of justification, warrant, rationality, and probability.
Of these four terms, the term that has been most widely used and discussed by the early 21st century is
"warrant". Loosely speaking, justification is the reason that someone (properly) holds a belief. When a
claim is in doubt, justification can be used to support the claim and reduce or remove the doubt.
Justification can use empiricism (the evidence of the senses), authoritative testimony (the appeal to
criteria and authority), or logical deduction.

Is belief that the sun will rise tomorrow warranted? Is such a belief rational? Is it just probable or is it
certain? From my unphilosophical perspective, belief that the sun will rise tomorrow (and the day after
that) is very much justified. Whats more, I have faith that it will be so, and believe that this faith is also

I am also aware that some of the more questionable beliefs I, and many other people, hold are held on
the basis of authoritative testimony. Over the years I have questioned this authoritative testimony and
the holy books of medicine, of which there are only two that spring to mind. These are Harrisons
Principles of Internal Medicine, my fathers professional bible and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders (DSM), commonly referred to as the psychiatrists bible. Maybe one could regard
Grays Anatomy as the anatomists bible, though I have never heard it referred to as such.

Harrisons Principles of Internal Medicine is not treated as a bible by all physicians, though it is widely
respected as an authoritative textbook. To my father, though, it is the absolute authority on any matter
that it covers. He purchases each new edition, so he can keep up with the progress of medicine. It is
the reference text he trusts on matters of medicine and health. My father also regards himself as a
Christian, but he has much more faith in Harrisons, as he calls it, than he does the Christian Bible. I
think this relative faith in the collective opinion of American medical professors is very much warranted.
The contents of Harrisons Internal Medicine may be slanted towards the interests of the
pharmaceutical industry, but they are much more reliable than the writings of any religion, and more
likely to lead to healing than prayer to any god of the present or past. Though fallible, unlike ancient
religious texts Harrisons Principles of Medicine is updated every couple of years, and there is clear
progress in the knowledge it contains.

The DSM is also updated with new editions, though not as frequently as Harrisons Principles of Internal
Medicine. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and has been the
standard reference text for the application of labels of mental disorder in the USA, Canada and
Australia since the 1950s, when it was first published. Again, it is not intended to be regarded as a Bible,
but it often is. The rival ICD (International Classification of Disease) is not worshipped quite the way the
DSM is in Europe and the UK, since it is produced by the World Health Organization and not the APA.
The APA has many features of a religion, and of a cult. The DSM also updates its information, but not in
the way that Harrisons Principles of Internal Medicine does, which modifies its contents on the basis of
new scientific evidence. The notable characteristic of the DSM is that new editions have more and more
disease labels and broader criteria for their application.

By Poppers definition the DSM and ICD are not scientific. They do not contain falsifiable hypotheses. In
fact, they do not provide hypotheses at all. They present, instead, an open-ended system of
classification based on consensus opinion of psychiatrists, influenced by various lobby groups that
campaign for changes in classification. Hence homosexuality stopped being classified as a mental
disorder in the 1973, while the new disorder of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was
created with the publication of the DSM IV in 1994. Though it has statistical in its title, the DSM does
not provide psychiatrists with any numbers, statistical or otherwise. What are presented are stereotypes
of various disorders, with additional categories for people who do not satisfy the diagnostic criteria.
There is a label for everyone, though psychiatrists use their discretion about who to apply a label to, or
whether to apply a label at all. They are, predictably, less likely to use the same diagnostic criteria on

The American physician who edited the first five versions of Harrisons Principles of Internal Medicine,
Tinsley R Harrison (1900-1975) was another modern sage. The first edition was published in 1950 and it
remains, in its current edition, one of the most widely read and regarded textbooks in medicine.
Harrison was a cardiologist, but his textbook covered all aspects of internal medicine, and was a
monumental work of integrative science. He integrated medical knowledge from various specialties in
one textbook, with a focus on the clinical diagnosis and clinical course of various diseases, their
pathogenesis and associated pathophysiology and treated and untreated prognosis. He did this by
organizing for experts in the various specialties to write chapters, which he collected together and
edited. The textbook did not cover certain diseases, though. Notably it did not say much about diseases
and illnesses of the mind and what can be done about it. It said nothing about how the mind influences
the body; even the well-known placebo effect is not discussed. Mind-body dualism is deeply embedded
in the medical sciences. Psychiatry deals with the mind, neurology with the brain. This, it has been said,
has resulted in a mindless neurology and a brainless psychiatry.

The great sages of the East had very different perspectives on the mind to the modern scientific sages of
the West. This is seen most famously in the philosophy of the sage Gautama Siddhartha, who came to
be known as the Buddha or enlightened one. The Buddha did not talk about the brain, but he had a lot
to say about the mind. He was focused on virtuous thinking and conduct, analysing these in excruciating
detail, in developing a method to alleviate suffering. Suffering, he theorised, was an inevitable part of
life, and could only be permanently eliminated when the long cycle of reincarnation (samsara) reaches
an end (nirvana). The cycle of rebirth, which each individual has endured since time immemorial, is
caused by good and bad karma (merit) which accrues from previous lives. This was the previous Hindu
belief, which the Buddha reinterpreted, removing the inequities of caste (which was justified by karma
in the Hindu tradition) and introducing the concept of anatman meaning no-self or no-soul (absence of
atman or soul in Sanskrit). The concept of anatman has been debated ever since, since it seems
inconsistent with belief in reincarnation, and is sometimes interpreted as meaning no unchanging soul
or self. The Buddha taught that one can achieve liberation (moksha) from samsara by ridding oneself of
attachment or craving for this or future lives. It was liberation by extinction. At the same time, the
Buddhas teaching about how to reduce suffering by the Noble Eightfold path (right view, intention,
speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration), his promotion of the virtues of metta
(loving kindness), karuna (compassion), muditha (rejoicing in the joy of others) and upeksa (equanimity)
and identification of greed, hatred and delusion as vices seems like sound, profound philosophy to me.
According to the Buddha:

Metta embraces all beings

Karuna embraces all those who suffer

Muditha embraces the prosperous

Upekkha embraces the good, bad, loved and unloved, pleasant and unpleasant.

The Buddha didnt sound as if he was uncertain about things. But then he wasnt a scientist, he was a
philosopher, and a wise one. He urged, though, that people maintain scepticism about even his
enlightened words, and judge for themselves on the basis of reason and experience. His teachings,
though, have become religious doctrines the word dharma, meaning both Law and Truth is used to
refer to what the sage is said to have said. He, as far as Im aware, did ask his followers to discuss and
debate the dharma, not follow it blindly. There is deep wisdom in Buddhism, part of the wisdom being
that the founder of the religion did not regard himself as infallible, a god or channelling the word of God.

I have only mentioned deceased sages so far, but there are many sages and other wise people alive
today. There are probably as many more wise women, young men and children than sages (wise old
men) on the planet, but they are not the ones whose talking heads and hands are most apparent on the
miracle of the Internet. Historically, it is supposedly wise old men who have shaped the dominant
religions, as well as field of philosophy. They have also dominated science.

One modern sage of the Internet Age who looks and sounds very sage indeed is the philosopher Daniel
Dennett, who is blessed with a long white beard and a deep voice, as well as an incisive intellect. After
watching some debates featuring Dennett and watching him in friendly discussion with like-minded
atheists, I took some time off to read a book by the wise man that I bought some years ago, but hadnt
read. It is titled Kinds of Minds, and I read it immediately after I had finished The Amazing
Hypothesis by Francis Crick, which again I bought many years ago but had read only bits of. Both books
are about the problem of consciousness, which until now I had not thought of as much as a problem. I
didnt really know what the problem was, let alone why it is called the hard problem of consciousness.
Now I do the hard problem is the question of how do brains produce consciousness?

Crick and Dennett both agree that brains produce minds, but they have very different approaches to the
subject matter, Crick taking a more reductionist, scientific approach and Dennett taking a more
philosophical approach. This is to be expected, since Crick calls himself a scientist, while Dennett calls
himself a philosopher. My impression is that Dennetts arguments are just as scientific as Cricks, and
considerably more modest (as reflected in the respective titles of their books). Dennett argues that free
will is an illusion, and that consciousness cannot be localised to any part of the brain; he argues cogently
that consciousness exists as a continuum from the simple sentience to the complexity of human
consciousness according to the complexity of brains, which function primarily as information
processors. Crick argues, in the postscript of The Amazing Hypothesis, that Free Will (he uses capitals)
does indeed exist, and is located in or near the anterior cingulate sulcus though in practice, things are
likely to be more complicated, and other areas in the front of the brain may also be involved. Crick
also argues that it is better to avoid a precise definition of consciousness because of the dangers of
premature definition. Until the problem is understood much better, any attempt at formal definition is
likely to be either misleading or overly restrictive, or both, he explains. The model Crick promotes is
based on computer analogies, in which the individual neurons (nerve cells) provide the circuits through
the network of interconnected nerve fibres (axons and dendrons) forming neural networks. He presents
his astonishing hypothesis that the brain produces the mind, as alternative hypothesis to dualism:

It is difficult for many people to accept that what they see is a symbolic interpretation of the
world- it all seems so like the real thing. But in fact we have no direct knowledge of objects in
the world. Instead, people often prefer to believe that there is a disembodied soul that, in some
utterly mysterious way, does the actual seeing, helped by the elaborate apparatus of the brain.
Such people are called dualists they believe that matter is one thing and mind is something
completely different. Our Astonishing Hypothesis says, on the contrary, that this is not the case,
that its all done by nerve cells.

In The Understanding of the Brain (1973), Eccles summarized his philosophical position on the so-called
'brain-mind problem'. He announced that he fully accepted the recent philosophical achievements of
Sir Karl Popper with his concept of three worlds. I was a dualist, now I am a trialist! Cartesian dualism
has become unfashionable with many people. They embrace monism in order to escape the enigma of
brain-mind interaction with its perplexing problems. But Sir Karl Popper and I are interactionists, and
what is more, trialist interactionists! According to Eccles the three worlds are very easily defined and
that in this classification, there is nothing left out: it encompasses everything that is in existence and in
our experience. All can be classified in one or other of the categories enumerated under Worlds 1, 2 and

World 1, according to Popper comprises physical objects and states (inorganic matter and energy,
biology and artefacts such as tools, books, works of art and music); World 2 referred to states of
consciousness (perception, thinking, emotions, dispositional intentions, memories, dreams, creative
imagination) and World 3 was knowledge in the objective sense (records of intellectual efforts,
philosophical, theological, scientific, historical, literary, artistic, technological and theoretical systems
such as scientific problems and critical arguments).

The idea of trialism hasnt caught on. Interestingly, trialism is the name given to a political movement in
the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 19th century, which may be where Popper got the word (though not
the concept, which was quite different). In 1986 the British philosopher John Cottingham, an expert on
Rene Descartes, tried introducing the idea of trialism again, as an extension of Descartes dualism
(between mind and body) adding the third category of sensation. This hasnt been a successful meme

Popper and Eccles three worlds paralleled a more widely accepted division a political one between
First, Second and Third Worlds. This made their model even more confusing, since 1st, 2nd and 3rd worlds
mean something very different to their World 1, 2 and 3. Popper and Eccles were proud sons of the 1st
World, which was the Cold War enemy of the 2nd, or Communist World. The 3rd World produced the raw
materials, while the 1st and 2nd Worlds manufactured them into weapons and sold them back to the 3rd
World. While the scientific sages were pontificating on consciousness and free will, the 1st and 2nd
Worlds were fighting proxy wars in 3rd World nations in which the civilians of the 3rd World were
slaughtered with bombs designed with 1st world scientific knowhow and built in 1st world factories.

The sage who has most consistently and powerfully opposed 1st world and American militarism is
undoubtedly Noam Chomsky, who was also a pioneer in the cognitive revolution, when American
psychologists became interested in the mind again, after abandoning it in favour of measuring
behaviour. The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio credits Chomsky with beginning the cognitive
revolution with a 1957 paper; from what I have read elsewhere Chomskys 1959 review of Verbal
Behavior by B F Skinner was a key publication in this revolution. Damasio says that the cognitive
revolution led to a resurgence in psychological interest in emotions, which had been neglected since the
19th century work of Darwin and William James, and the early 20th century work of Freud. Apparently
the Society for Neuroscience, founded in 1971 only had its first symposium on emotions in 1995 and
emotion only caught on in the 1990s.
While it is true that Skinner and the behaviourists had ruled that subjective aspects of emotions could
not be studied scientifically, it is not true that there was no focus on emotions during the earlier parts of
the 19th century, before the supposed revolution when behaviourism was abandoned in favour of more
enlightened cognitive science. The anatomist James Papez proposed a neuronal circuit for emotions
(later termed the Papez Circuit) in the 1930s, after observing the effects of injecting rabies into the
brains of cats. There were studies at the time to identify what parts of the brain were necessary for
consciousness and emotional reactions by surgically excising bigger and bigger chunks of brain from
living cats, and sectioning their spinal cords at various levels to observe their behaviour. Prior to this, the
physiologist Walter Cannon developed, after experiments on dogs, the influential doctrines that the
sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is involved in fight or flight while the
parasympathetic branch is concerned with rest and digest. Obviously fight and flight are emotional
responses to anger and fear. Cannon coined the term fight or flight in 1915; over the past century it has
become one of the most successful memes in physiology.

From what I understand of the scientific method as espoused by Popper, the discipline can only
disprove, or falsify, theories, and not prove them. A falsifiable hypothesis that has not been falsified yet
stands as the best fit for the observable facts until it is superseded by a better hypothesis. The classic
example is the progress from the mechanistic theories of Newton to Quantum Theory. Einsteins
theories superseded those of Newton, in the same way that the germ theory of infectious disease
superseded the idea of spontaneous generation (or punishment by God or the work of the Devil). This is
the blurb.

Philosophers seem to love isms. They talk about materialism and rationalism, nihilism, humanitarianism
and functionalism. Popper, who has been described as the enemy of certainty termed his new
approach critical rationalism. I dont know what most of the isms mean this is something that
philosophers presumably debate about. Then there are the religions that are termed as isms
Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, Jainism and others. Buddhism and Confucianism are regarded by some as
religions and others as philosophies, since they do not concern themselves with gods or the
supernatural. Some of the critics of science also speak of scientism science as a religion. Often
scientific opinions are accepted on faith faith in the pronouncements and opinions of recognised
experts. Most people base their scientific opinions on what they have been told by others, not on the
basis of their own experimentally tested hypotheses. They have faith in the system to come up with
reasonable hypotheses and test them. How reasonable is this faith?

I am certain about many things. I am certain, for example of the existence of the sun, and of the earth
and the people who inhabit it. It seems curious to me that solipsism ever existed as a school of
philosophy. The idea that I am only certain of my own existence and my own mind is preposterous, as
far as I am concerned. I am just as certain of many other things. I am certain that there is a blue plate in
my kitchen, and that there is a gum tree outside my window (though you may not be, since from your
reasonable perspective I may be mistaken or lying). I cant see the plate, but I can see the tree if I look to
the right. Even if Im not looking at the tree I am certain of its existence, and of the existence of other
trees. In percentage terms, Id rate my certainty of these things as 100% or close to 100%. I am also
close to 100% certain that my skin is dark because of the secretion of melanin by melanocytes and that
Vitamin D is synthesised from cholesterol (though I base this belief on written sources that I trust, rather
than on any experiments I have done, or could do, myself). Does that make me a certaintist?

Though I am reasonably certain, if not 100% confident, that my skin, eyes and brain contain the pigment
melanin, I am less certain about what melanin is, what its functions are, how and why it evolved, or its
chemical composition. I do have theories about all these things, but I regard them as hypotheses, rather
than beliefs or knowledge.

The difference between belief, knowledge and delusional conviction were brought home to me in a
recent phone conversation with an elderly gentleman who rang me to seek my advice about his 41-year-
old daughter, who had been in and out of mental hospitals since her twenties, having initially becoming
psychotic (I was told) after a week-long fast, when she drank only water. She had been diagnosed with
schizophrenia and was on a particularly toxic antipsychotic drug, clozapine. The old man was convinced
his daughter became psychotic whenever she smoked even tobacco cigarettes, and wanted to know
what I thought about this. When I questioned him about it he admitted that he used to go on fasts for
religious reasons before his daughter did the same. I recognised him to be suffering from religious
delusions himself when he asked me if I thought she might be ingesting a cigarette demon which was
possessing her.

I tried reasoning with him, after clarifying that he was talking about tailor-made tobacco cigarettes from
a packet, rather than cannabis. He said that this is indeed what he was talking about and that no one
believed him, and that he knew there was no scientific evidence to back what he was saying. I said, I
realise you believe that the cigarettes are sending her mad, but.. He interrupted me, I dont believe, I
know. Ive seen it with my own eyes. Convincing this gentleman, over the phone, that what he thought
he saw with his own eyes was not true was not easy. Im not sure how successful I was, though I
suggested some alternative explanations, such as that it was only when she got angry enough to defy his
rule that she not smoke that she went and got some cigarettes, which he was interpreting as insanity.
He doubted this, and asked me if believed in demonic possession. It was his daughter who was in the
mental hospital and not him in fact he had guardianship of her, under mental health laws. I gained
the impression that the most important thing this woman needed was to be able to take control of her
own life, and gain some independence from the domination of her father. It may be that she, too was
deluded; if so I had identified a likely source of some of her delusions.

The Not-so-astonishing Hypothesis of Dr Crick

The Astonishing Hypothesis, subtitled the Scientific Search for the Soul was published in 1994, and was
the culmination of Francis Cricks investigations into the visual system (mainly of monkeys, and mainly of
the neurons of the cortex) in support of what he regarded as an astonishing hypothesis that you,
your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free
will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated
molecules. Crick then progresses in his reductionist model to the ridiculously reductionist assertion that
As Lewis Carrolls Alice might have phrased it, Youre nothing but a pack of neurons.

Crick says that this hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people alive today that it can truly be
called astonishing, hence the title of his book. The title of his book and Cricks astonishing hypothesis
amused many who found nothing surprising, let alone astonishing, about his hypothesis. It has always
been a core assumption of neuroscientists that the mind is produced by the brain and the behaviour of
the cells in it. It is plain wrong to assume that all the brains activity is confined to the neurones (which
form a minority of the cells in the nervous system, which are mostly glial cells, whose function is less
well understood). It is also not true that you are only your brain or only your mind. You are, obviously,
your body as well.

Cricks hypothesis is not, in other words, original. He is restating an old assumption, that the mind is
produced by the brain. I have assumed this to be the case for as long as I can remember. When I
mentioned Dr Cricks astonishing hypothesis to my 80 year-old mother, she said isnt the mind the
same thing as the brain? I was quick to assure her that they were quite different things, revealing my
own dualism. The brain is a soft organ inside the skull, while the mind is your thoughts and thinking I
explained. My mother agreed with this separation between mind and brain, and this has allowed us to
continue clearer discussions about both. It is obvious that the brain affects the mind and the mind
affects the brain, but they are not the same. I know I have a mind due to my subjective experience of it,
but I know I have a brain only because science tells me I have one, and I believe, for many reasons, that
this is true. I have seen what I was told was a CT scan of my brain, but it is possible (though very unlikely)
that it was someone elses scan and not my own. I would venture to say, on reflection, that I am 100%
certain I have a brain, and so does everyone I have met who has talked to me or that I have seen talking.
They also have minds, a fact of which I am certain, though Im not certain that they all have souls. Im
not sure that I have a soul either, though it seems like a nice thing to have, in addition to a mind.

What, I asked my mother, after establishing the difference between mind and brain, is the soul? She said
she hadnt thought about it. Dr Crick, who died in 2004 aged 88, never discovered what the soul was
either. My mother thinks, though, that when she dies, her soul (whatever that is) will live on, and be
united with God (whatever that is) in heaven (wherever that is). Maybe this belief gives her comfort, but
others believe that they may go to hell and face eternal damnation. Maybe this possibility is in the back
of my mothers mind but she hasnt told me about it. It is certainly deeply rooted in Christian theology.

At the beginning of his introduction to his astonishing hypothesis Crick poses a question and answer,
apparently a Roman Catholic catechism which reads as follows:

Q: What is the soul?

A: The soul is a living being without a body, having reason and free will.

How can there be a living being without a body, with or without free will or reason? The science I
studied assumed that all living things have bodies, and it is by their bodies that they are classed as
different species. Some of these species have brains, others do not. I think of consciousness as an
emergent property from organized networks of neurones, and both reasoning and free will to be a
product of consciousness (and therefore activity of the brain, but also activity in the rest of the body).
The brain is part of the body, but there are important unanswered questions about how the brain
affects the rest of the body (and vice versa). These questions are not explored in The Astonishing
Hypothesis, which has little to say about reason or free will, either. It is mainly about scientific
experiments investigating visual perception, using the brains of macaque monkeys.

Apart from its misleading title, I found Cricks book an interesting read, and I discovered some things I
didnt know about the primate visual system. I was interested in his theory that consciousness was the
result of reverberating circuits between the cortex and thalamus; this (like the less-than-astonishing
hypothesis itself) is not his own but the theory of the neuroscientist Donald Hebb. This was Cricks best
explanation for the mind-body problem, as its called, the problem of dualism the apparent duality
of the brain and consciousness.

Crick doesnt talk about the soul at all, despite claiming to be writing about the scientific search for it. He
doesnt mention the Greek word for soul psyche or its relationship with the disciplines of psychology
and psychiatry, less the big differences of opinion and contradictions in both disciplines (both of which
claim the mantle of being scientific). He doesnt even discuss language a characteristic that is regarded
as integral to the Aristotlean idea that humans have a rational soul, while animals only have a
sensitive soul. Dr Crick doesnt mention Aristotle at all, or the fact that the classical Greek philosopher
was the first to explicitly define the soul of plants, animals and humans in the Western tradition, on
which Dr Cricks own science is based. Less surprisingly he doesnt mention soul music, or the rapture
we experience with many types of music. He doesnt mention rapture or ecstasy at all (or any emotional
reactions, even those we feel in response to what we see, though he claims to be starting with the visual
system in order to solve the puzzle of consciousness). Neither does he mention near death experiences,
telepathy or any scientific observations that challenge the assumption that minds can exist only with
brains. His model is reductionist, though he does refer to neural networks. This model is, at best,
connectionist. There is nothing wrong with connectionism, as long as it is done with awareness that the
whole may be greater than the sum of its parts, as far as function is concerned. A holistic perspective is
essential in the neurosciences as it is in science generally.

Crick partly addresses criticisms such as my own at the end of the book:

Many of my readers might justifiably complain that what has been discussed in this book has
very little to do with the human soul as they understand it. Nothing has been said about that
most human of capabilities language nor about how we do mathematics, or problem solving
in general. Even for the visual system I have hardly mentioned visual imagination or our
aesthetic responses to pictures, sculpture, architecture and so on. There is not a word about the
real pleasure we get from interacting with Nature. Topics such as self-awareness, religious
experiences (which can be real enough, even if the customary explanations of them are false), to
say nothing of falling in love, have been completely ignored. A religious person might aver that
what is most important to him is his relationship with God. What can science possibly say about

Cricks justification for these omissions in his model and it is a model is that such criticisms are
perfectly valid at the moment, but making them in this context would show a lack of appreciation of the
methods of science. Koch and I chose to consider the visual system because we felt that, of all possible
choices, it would yield most easily to an experimental attack. The book shows clearly that while such an
attack will not be easy, it does appear to have some chance of success. Our other assumption was that,
once the visual system is fully understood, the more fascinating aspects of the soul will be much easier
to study.

After he published The Astonishing Hypothesis, Dr Crick gave an interview in which he explained his
astonishing hypothesis. This interesting interview is available on YouTube:

It is evident that Cricks model is entirely mechanistic, based on the belief that the brain can best be
likened to a computer, but with vastly greater capacity for parallel processing: your brain is a machine
that is processing information. Crick himself went into the neurosciences later in life, after achieving
fame and the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his co-discovery of the DNA molecule. (An example of the
scientific establishment ignoring the contributions of women can be seen in the work of Rosalind
Franklin that led to Watson and Cricks discoveries).

In the 1990s the neurosciences were booming, according to Crick, though he doesnt say what all these
neuroscientists are doing. He said that there had been an increase from 1000 to 23,000 neuroscientists;
its hard to see a corresponding increase in factual knowledge about the brain and mind. Dr Cricks
research methods give an indication why. The primary method for studying the mind, in Dr Cricks
paradigm, is to study the effects of electrically stimulating individual neurones and arrays of neurones in
anaesthetised animals. He hoped future the neuroscientists of the future would continue this line of
research using animals with smooth cortices like rats and monkeys, rigged up with an array of
hundreds of electrodes, each measuring the activity of an individual nerve cell, and the development of
chemicals that could block various aspects of nerve transmission. These could be watched, he said, on a
TV screen to observe their patterns.

Crick believed that consciousness was the result of reverberating neural circuits based on the theories
of the Canadian neuropsychologist Donald Hebb (1904-1985), who is famous for developing Hebbs Law
that "Neurons that fire together wire together." Actually what Hebb said was more nuanced: When an
axon of cell A is near enough to excite cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some
growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A's efficiency, as one of
the cells firing B, is increased. This is now termed Hebbian learning and is considered one factor in
the learning process when viewed on a cellular level.

Hebb also studied rats, chimpanzees and humans, during his long career. He began by instituting
behaviour change programs in schools, moving to studying the effects of raising rats in darkness and
measuring the weights of their brains, before studying the effects of the removal of parts of the brain in
humans, and the psychological effects of sensory deprivation and brainwashing on university students.
The latter became controversial when it was revealed that the sensory deprivation experiments were
secretly funded by the CIA as part of the MK Programs, which involved neuroscientists, psychiatrists and
psychologists in Canada and the United Kingdom and USA, in some of the most respected academic
institutions in the world. The MK programs also involved such things as psychic driving under the
effects of LSD, as described by Dr Stan Grof, who was himself injected with LSD and placed under bright
strobe lights, while wired to an EEG machine to measure the electrical patterns on his scalp. Grof had an
out of body experience which led to his subsequent career researching and theorising on what he calls
non-ordinary states of consciousness. Grof continued studying the effects of LSD after becoming Chief
of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Center at the University of Maryland in the USA,
until LSD research and use were banned.

Hebb said later that, The work that we have done at McGill University began, actually, with the
problem of brainwashing. We were not permitted to say so in the first publishing.... The chief impetus,
of course, was the dismay at the kind of "confessions" being produced at the Russian Communist trials.
"Brainwashing" was a term that came a little later, applied to Chinese procedures. We did not know
what the Russian procedures were, but it seemed that they were producing some peculiar changes of
attitude. How? One possible factor was perceptual isolation and we concentrated on that.

Hebb postulated that consciousness was the result of reverberating circuits in the brain, and that these
circuits are active even when the subject is asleep or unconscious. Crick looked for these reverberations,
but didnt find them. He explains that most of the experiments have been done on animals under
anaesthetic, so its not surprising we havent seen the reverberation.

Crick cheerfully adopts the attitude of Popper that we cant be certain about anything. This was picked
up by the interviewer who observes, in response to Cricks inability to define consciousness that Every
answer needs to be qualifiedthere seems to be no simple way to state a simple and obvious theory
about anything. Crick, famous for his discovery of DNA, answers, If you ask anybody in the field to
define a gene, they have great difficulty finding a definition. And thats because we believe its all
evolved by natural selection - a lot of molecular gadgetry and so on - you dont expect there to be a crisp
answer as in Newtonian Mechanics. Biology is very different from physics in that respect.

Crick argues that you have to understand conscious and unconscious processes in the brain before you
get too deeply into free will, though he does suggest a specific area in the brain that has been
identified to be important in decision-making (the cingulate gyrus) as a possible seat of the Will that
fed into the higher, planning levels of the motor system. It seems to me that free will and will (or
volition) are not quite the same. The will may seem free, but be the result of previous learning or
instinct. One can decide something without an accompanying physical action, and one can act without
consciously deciding to move. These decisions and actions are dependent on consciousness, but Crick
doesnt define consciousness.

Here Antonio Damasio comes to the rescue. Damasio is mentioned by Crick in his postscript on Free
Will, as having also arrived at the same idea that the seat of the Will had been discovered at or near
the anterior cingulate after studying a woman with brain damage who had apparently lost her Will.
Unlike Crick and others who are evasive about what consciousness is, Damasio is clear about his
definitions, and therefore easier to understand.

In a 2011 TED talk titled The Quest to Understand Consciousness, Damasio defined consciousness as
that which we lose when we fall into deep sleep without dreams or go under anaesthesia. He
explained that we all woke up this morning with the return of our conscious mind. This is easier to
handle. It is clear that our consciousness is lost when we are asleep, but that our brains remain active,
especially during dreaming sleep. Our memory is also active when we are asleep, and while sound
asleep our senses still remain subliminally active, in that we can be woken from sleep by loud sounds,
bright lights or being touched on our skin. While we are asleep there is also amazing healing that occurs
routinely. Our fatigue, from hours of wakefulness (and that increases with duration of wakefulness)
disappears during sleep, in a way more profound than conscious relaxation can achieve. Sleep is vital for
physical and mental health. But what is sleep and how does sleep heal?

The TV rarely brings good news. Tonight was different. There is a conference in Sydney encouraging the
reinvigoration of Indigenous languages in Australia and the Pacific Region. The good news is that at last,
there are moves to teach indigenous languages throughout Australia, and that the promotion of
Aboriginal languages has resulted in a dramatic reduction in youth suicide, as well as unexpected lucidity
in people who had been diagnosed with mental illness. They have found that even languages that had
supposedly died out a hundred years ago are being spoken again, in everyday conversation. The bad
news is that of 250 known Aboriginal languages, 110 are endangered.

I didnt learn much about the sun at university, other than that it was by far the commonest cause of
skin cancer, of which melanoma a cancer of pigmented melanocytes - is the most dangerous.
Melanocytes are so named because they contain the dark pigment melanin, which protects against
damage from the rays of the sun. Queensland, where I studied medicine, is said to be one of the
melanoma capitals of the world. The promotion of skin creams to protect against the harmful rays of
the sun, which we are told, are called ultraviolet (not to be confused with ultra-violent), is standard
public health policy in Australia, despite the fact that the original inhabitants of Australia have no need
for such creams (and neither do I nor my children, and all the other dark-skinned inhabitants of
multicultural Australia). We also learned that sunlight is important for the healthy development of
bones, due to its effect in stimulating vitamin D production in the skin, and that lack of sunlight causes
rickets, characterised by weak bones that bend in children, resulting in bowed legs and other
deformities, which have been known to develop more easily in dark-skinned children brought up in
temperate regions where there is less sunlight.

How can I be certain that there is such a thing as melanin, or that it is produced by melanocytes, or that
there is such a thing as vitamin D and that it is also produced in the skin under the influence of radiation
from the sun? The answer is that I have faith in science and the scientists who made the relevant
discoveries. But how justifiable is this trust in the scientific endeavour and the scientific establishment as
a whole? Is there a difference in the science of the East and the science of the West, or is it only the
science of the West that constitutes Real Science? Is there such a thing as mainstream science versus
alternative science or is alternative science an oxymoron? I will consider these questions later; first I
will consider the question what is belief? When can belief reasonably be regarded as certainty, and
when can belief be reasonably regarded as knowledge? Where does probability come into the equation?
How true are texts, and how much can various authorities be trusted, regardless of whether they wear
the mantle of scientist or holy man? Is scientific thinking incompatible with religion, and to what degree
has science become a religion?

The Four Horsemen of the non-Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse, as they have been called the biologist Richard Dawkins,
the physicist Lawrence Krauss, the philosopher Daniel Dennett, the neuroscientist Sam Harris and the
journalist Christopher Hitchens - have been leading the charge on the side of rational science against
irrational religion. They maintain that science is self-critical, and scientists are generally prepared to
discard cherished hypotheses when confronted by evidence that disprove them, while religions preach
that blind faith is a virtue in itself. The Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse are the prophets of the
New Atheism, and have many fans. They focus, though, on the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity
and Islam. I have never heard them mention Buddhism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism or Hinduism in
their attacks on religious belief and promotion of atheism (though Hichens and Dawkins imply that no
one sensible believes in polytheism any more). The name itself was not adopted by these prophets but
by their legion of fans and is an ironic moniker based on the Apocalypse and Day of Judgement
prophesied in the last book of the Christian Bible Revelations.

Hitchens, who died in 2011, used to point out that there is nothing new about atheism, but the
arguments of these intellectuals are, to some extent new (including their arguments against new
theological arguments that have arisen from quantum and cosmological discoveries). Some critics have
accused the New Atheism of being a religion itself, and its proponents of attacking other religions with a
religious zealotry, in proselytising their particular brand of atheism and scientism. Others have pointed
out that the leaders of the New Atheism are all male and all white, and provide a white, male

The British philosopher John Gray, himself an atheist, wrote in the Guardian in 2008 that:

Zealous atheism renews some of the worst features of Christianity and Islam. Just as much as
these religions, it is a project of universal conversion. Evangelical atheists never doubt that
human life can be transformed if everyone accepts their view of things, and they are certain that
one way of living their own, suitably embellished is right for everybody.

In Grays view, Dawkins, Hitchens and the rest may still believe that, in the long run, the advance of
science will drive religion to the margins of human life, but this is now an article of faith rather than a
theory based on evidence.

The famous linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky has criticised the New Atheists as being
religious fanatics who believe in the State Religion, rather than the other religions, and there is some
truth in this, when it comes to Christopher Hitchens, who declared himself to be an anti-Theist in
addition to an atheist and adeist. This terminology, used by Hitchens, differentiated between deism
and theism (though both have the same linguistic roots, meaning God from which also the Greek god
Zeus is derived). The New Atheists are not all as vehemently anti-religion as Hichens was. Richard
Dawkins has described himself as a spiritual atheist, making the distinction between spirituality and
religiosity. One can be spiritual, in this view without being religious, and presumably religious without
being spiritual, but what do the words religious and spiritual actually mean? What constitutes a religion?
What is a spirit, and what is the difference, if any, between spirit and soul? Does atheism necessarily
infer disbelief in spirit and soul? What can science contribute to an understanding of spirit, soul and
mind (if indeed these are different things)? Does thinking scientifically and rationally lead inevitably to

The Four Horsemen of the non-Apocalypse, all true believers in the steady progress of science and the
falseness of religion, argue that religion is not only false, but that it is harmful to society. Dawkins argues
that the falsity of religion is itself harmful, and that his aim is to promote rational thinking, and the
scientific method. He expresses the hope, which he admits may not be realistic, that humankind will
abandon religion in favour of Science.

Dawkins says that, "We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in.
Some of us just go one god further." Hitchens uses the same argument since the dawn of civilization
people have worshipped thousands of gods, which are mutually exclusive. By the laws of probability,
Hitchens argues, the likelihood of ones chosen god being the true god is less that one in a thousand.
Though they win applause from their many fans, these arguments are somewhat flawed; though the
many religious debaters that have challenged the Four Horsemen have had difficulty identifying some of
these flaws because of their own beliefs in the Biblical Word. It is easy to argue against the morality (and
factuality) of the holy books of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, pointing to their support of slavery and
the subjugation of women and children alone. It is not so easy to argue that all religion is harmful, as the
New Atheists maintain.
Examples of behaviour and teachings that with a modern understanding of morality we can clearly
recognise as evil, abound in the Old Testament. King Solomon, famed for his supposed wisdom, advised
that to spare the rod was to spoil the child. The story of Abraham being prepared to make a human
sacrifice of his son, Isaac, because the voice of God or an angel of God commanded him to do so,
and that it demonstrated his faith or belief. That this is both bad and mad is easy to establish on
logical and humanitarian grounds, without recourse to science. Philosophy has more to say about
morality than science does. The book of Leviticus has Moses getting angry that his soldiers had spared
the women and children in their genocide of the Midianites, ordering that the women be killed, and all
the male children, but the virgin girls be spared death, to be used as slaves. This is obviously evil. Science
doesnt enlighten us on these matters, philosophy may, but the reason more of us know not to beat our
children is not because of science. It is not because of religion either. Maybe it is because of natural
human morality.

Dawkins sums up the God of the Old Testament as the most evil character in fiction. In The God
Delusion he writes:

The God of the Old Testament is a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak, a vindictive,
bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal,
pestilential, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capricious, malevolent bully.

Hitchens uses similar terms cruel, vindictive, murderous, judgemental and genocidal. I have a long
agreed with Hitchens and Dawkins on this assessment of the God of the Old Testament, but I am not so
convinced that religion is at the root of as much evil as they claim. I am also cognisant of what religion,
ritual and even theology have contributed to human civilization. The world would be a poorer place
without the magnificent architecture of cathedrals, temples and mosques and the various religious
festivals that add colour, music and even mystery to human culture. Religious sculptures can be
extremely beautiful, even sublime, and date back to the dawn of human civilization and long into
prehistory. At the same time, there has been much evil done in the name of religion. The inquisitions of
the Catholic Church, the Crusades, and the monstrous behaviour of the Spanish conquistadores in the
Americas are obvious examples. When the Portuguese, enthused with Catholicism and hatred of
idolatry, arrived in India and Sri Lanka in the 1600s, they wasted no time in reducing to rubble as many
Hindu and Buddhist temples as they could. Monstrous brutality was committed on heathens by the
Spanish and Portuguese soldiers, justified in the name of spreading the Word of Jesus.

Having been baptised and confirmed as an Anglican Christian, and even winning the Christianity Prize
for many years running at a church school in Sri Lanka I am familiar enough with the contents of the Old
and New Testaments to wonder whether I should choose, as an object of worship, Yahweh, the jealous
and vengeful god of the Jews or Sarasvati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and wisdom. Both are mere
metaphysical concepts to me, but I believe in many metaphysical concepts, why not gods and
goddesses? As long as I know they are metaphysical concepts and not supernatural beings. Maybe one
can worship Goodness or God without any thought of reward. Can one worship Wisdom, or Truth, or
Beauty as metaphysical concepts with or without agency? Is it reasonable to define what one worships
as ones god (or gods)?
The four horsemen of atheism, as they have been called are the British biologist Richard Dawkins, the
British-American journalist Christopher Hitchens, the American philosopher Daniel Dennett and the
American neuroscientist Sam Harris. Their discussion (not debate) on the evils of religion, hosted by
Hitchens his home, has become a classic among their many secular fans.

Hitchens argues that there is nothing new about atheism, and this is true. Atheism has a long
philosophical tradition in both the East and the West. The New Atheists focus only on the atheism of the
West and never mention, for example, the Hindu Crvka, a materialistic and atheistic school of Indian
philosophy, that had developed a systematic philosophy by 6th century CE. Crvkas rejected
metaphysical concepts like reincarnation, afterlife, extracorporeal soul, efficacy of religious rites, other
world (heaven and hell), fate, and accumulation of merit or demerit through the performance of certain
actions. Crvkas also refused to ascribe supernatural causes to describe natural phenomena.

The four horsemen of atheism, pit science against religion, which is argued to be harmful and ignorant
of the facts. Dawkins is rightly concerned about fundamentalist Biblical Creationism being taught as an
alternative theory to evolution by natural selection, but extends his criticism to religion more generally
and decries faith as a reason for believing anything. It could be said, though that he has more faith in
science than an objective assessment of this all-too-human endeavour warrants.

Dawkins courted acrimonious debate when he titled his polemic against religion The God Delusion.
Needless to say, believers in God were incensed. I was not. I was amused and entertained by his
arguments. They confirmed what I already thought that man created many gods in their own image,
rather than God creating man in His image. Many years ago I had rejected the idea of a supreme deity
that was masculine in any way. I also agreed with Dawkins that humankind had progressed meaning
improved in morality in spite of rather than because of religion.

Hitchens, a British journalist who migrated to the USA, was famous for his arguments in favour of
atheism and against all religion. He was particularly damning of the Judao-Christian tradition and Islam,
but he regarded all gods to be man-made and false. The Christian and Jewish god of the Old Testament
(Yahweh) he saw as tyrannical, cruel and even genocidal, judging by the accounts in the Bible. He
observed that the story of Jesus of Nazareth was an endorsement of vicarious human sacrifice,
something to be condemned. He made the powerful argument that it is better to be good for humanistic
reasons than to avoid hell or be rewarded in a life after death. After publishing God is Not Great how
religion poisons everything he engaged in a series of debates on the subject:

Hitchens debating Christian theologist William Lane Craig:

Craig presents three arguments for the existence of God, which he claims is necessary for any objective
system of morality. These are

The cosmological argument

The teleological argument

The moral argument

In his 2011 debate with Sam Harris, Craig expanded on these arguments and Harris struggled to counter
them. Few scientists have the combined oratorical and debating skills of William Lane Craig:

According to Wikipedias entry on dialectics, debates are won through a combination of persuading the
opponent; proving one's argument correct; or proving the opponent's argument incorrect. By such a
definition there was no clear (to me) winner of the debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig.
Neither convinced his opponent. Though I agreed with much of what Harris said, I did not think he
addressed the specific arguments for the existence of God that were expounded by Craig. Harris is
perhaps limited by his training as a cognitive neuroscientist, rather than a physicist, when it comes to
cosmological arguments.

The cosmological expert among the New Atheists is Lawrence Krauss, who also frequents the debate
circuit in support of the atheist arguments which are generally regarded as synonymous with
materialist. This results in a sharp division between materialism and spiritualism, though Krauss makes
a distinction between spirituality and religion. In this debate Krauss argues in favour of the proposition
that science refutes God:

Krauss and Shermer won the debate, according to the voting of the audience. The vote for the motion
increased from 37% to 50%; the vote against also increased, but only from 34 to 38% (converts from the
27% that were undecided before the debate).

Hitchens argues against all religion, but celebrates what he calls the numinous.
In the following panel discussion on science, faith and religion at a science festival in the USA, Krauss is
accompanied by the British philosopher Colin McGinn who professes atheism but adds that certain
things are beyond human understanding, the Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno and
Professor Kenneth Miller, a cell biologist who believes both in science and Catholicism.

Dawkins and Krauss

Chomsky and Krauss:

One of the Anglican doctrines that had me most confused, as a child, was that of the Trinity. How, I
wondered, could the Father and the Son, as well as the Holy Spirit all be the same being? I was taught
not to believe in ghosts, but here was the school chaplain talking about the Holy Ghost. At this age I
was familiar with the comic books of Casper the Friendly Ghost. I knew that ghosts were imaginary. I
learned to disregard them as superstitions, though the existence of ghosts and spirit entities do not
necessarily imply the existence of the supernatural. By the time I was 15, rationality prevailed, and I
grew to regard the miracles of Christianity and all other religions as superstitions. I dont believe in
miracles, according to Humes definition of miracles as requiring the suspension of the Laws of Nature.
Hence I no longer believe in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth or anyone else; and I regard myself as
having been misinformed that the only true miracles that have ever occurred were those mentioned in
the Bible. I once believed these things, but when I was a child I thought childish thoughts. These were
not childish thoughts that emerged spontaneously from my childish mind. They were childish thoughts
that were implanted into my mind by adults that I loved and respected. They themselves had the
childish thoughts introduced to their impressionable minds by their parents when they were children. It
was called a good, Christian upbringing.

Science, too, has become a religion to some. This religion is called the New Atheism, and it has its
prophets, such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss and Christopher
Hitchens. I have sympathy for this new religion, the adherents of which are adamant that they are not
religious at all, and that religion is the enemy of reason.

Noam Chomsky is one of the intellectuals who is on record as calling the New Atheists (as they have
been dubbed) religious fanatics. To be fair, Chomsky also blames religious fanaticism of economists
regarding particular economic doctrines. Chomsky alleges that Hitchens is a follower of the State
Religion akin to the religion that the market knows best.

I also believe that the sun consists mostly of hydrogen and helium, and that the heat of the sun is caused
by a nuclear explosion that has been going on for billions of years, that the sun is one of millions of stars
in the Milky Way galaxy, and that this is one of billions of galaxies that I can see only as stars in the night
sky. This is something of a miracle to me, in that I am mystified as to how this came to be, and how
scientists know this, but I have good reasons for believing it. The reason I believe that what appear to
me as stars are actually galaxies, is that I have basic faith in the integrity of Western science and the
Western scientists of the past, and not because I have looked at stars through a telescope, though I have
seen photographs of distant galaxies taken through telescopes.

Though I heard the theory many years ago, until recently I was not so convinced about the Big Bang
Theory. To my sceptical mind it sounded too much like creationism in disguise, and though I accepted
that the distant galaxies showed red shift, indicating that the universe was expanding, I was not
convinced that extrapolating back to a singularity 13.8 billion years ago was logical and reasonable.
When scientists were talking about the first seconds of the formation of the universe, I wasnt sure that
they werent deluding themselves. How on Earth could we mere humans presume to understand the
first seconds of the universe?

My scepticism about the Big Bang has largely evaporated after hearing the debates posted on YouTube
of the physicist Lawrence Krauss, who argues that the Big Bang is evidence against the biblical account
of creation, though the Catholic pope did, apparently, claim the theory as evidence of biblical truth
when the Big Bang theory was first proposed. The current Pope Francis has declared that the Big Bang is
fact, but that is not a good reason to believe it to be so. The alternative Steady State Theory, held by the
famous British astronomer Fred Hoyle, was accepted by most physicists in the 1930s, who were
concerned that the originator of the Big Bang theory, Monsignor Georges Lematre, was a Roman
Catholic priest; it was thought that he was trying to sneak creationism into science. It was, in fact, Hoyle
who is credited with coining the term Big Bang, intending it pejoratively and contrasting it with the
Steady State Theory, which he favoured. In my ignorance of the evidence in favour of the Big Bang, and
without trying to find out the truth about it, I clung to the discredited Steady State Theory until I
watched Professor Krauss recently. Since reading the Wikipedia entry on the Big Bang theory my
remaining doubts have been resolved.
Krauss is a great educator, and the author of several popular science books including The Physics of Star
Trek and A Universe from Nothing. Though I have not read these I have watched several debates,
lectures and discussions on YouTube in which he appears. The debates have centred on the battle
between science and religion, raising the issues of belief and faith. Krauss proudly wears the label of
atheist and scientist, and argues against holding beliefs on the basis of religion or faith, rather than
evidence. He says there is no evidence of a God or gods and uses cosmological arguments, including the
Big Bang (on which he is an expert) to argue against the Biblical account of creation, as told in the Book
of Genesis, the first book of the Christian Old Testament.

I was brought up to identify myself as a Christian, though my ancestors a few generations back were
Hindu and Buddhist, and I rejected all religious belief when I was about 15. I attended Sunday school
when I was a child in England, where we memorised the names of books of the Old Testament by heart,
with the aid of a Haydn melody. My mother taught me the Lords Prayer and read Bible stories to me,
but also took me to the magnificent Natural History Museum in London, where I gazed in awe at the
dinosaur skeletons. She told me that the dinosaurs lived millions of years before humans evolved, and
that they suddenly became extinct millions of years ago. Though a Christian, my mother fully accepted
Darwins theory of evolution, having studied zoology at University in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the

My mother explained away the six day creation story at the beginning of Genesis by saying that one day
for God might mean millions of years in human time. I didnt know enough about Genesis to counter this
at the time, and I accepted her explanation. I wondered how Noah fitted all the different animals in his
ark, but didnt know enough about zoology to realise how ridiculous the proposition was, and how
clearly the current distribution of animals in the world refutes the idea that they all originated from an
ark washed up on Mt Ararat in Turkey only a few thousand years ago. Obviously he didnt have any
kangaroos hopping on his ark.

Its funny how otherwise sensible people hang on to such silly ideas in the back of their minds, without
really thinking about them. My now 82-year-old mother, who qualified as a zoologist and has worked as
a medical researcher, only thought seriously about the implausibility of the story of Noah when I
discussed it with her recently. Its not that she believed it. She neither believed it nor disbelieved it,
though she knew the myth well enough. She admitted that shed never really thought about it. When I
pointed out how the distribution of mammals in the modern world conclusively disproves the story of
Noahs Ark, she had no problem accepting this. There are others who are not so easily convinced by
evidence and logic. They believe in the story of Noah in every detail as recorded in the Holy Bible.

I recently watched a YouTube video showing some American atheists visiting the Creation Museum in
Kentucky, an American state about which I know little about other than that it produced KFC and
Colonel Sanders, who it is rumoured was connected with the KKK (though this may well be an urban
myth). Kentucky has also brought to the world state-of-the-art dinosaur models, which are depicted
alongside models of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden at the Creation Museum. Children are
predicably impressed by the displays, imprinting in their minds images that reinforce the delusion that
the earth is only 6000 years old, and the ludicrous idea that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.
Hopefully this madness will not spread much further than Kentucky and, at most, the southern states of
the USA. The museum cost more than $ 20 million to construct, an indication of the big money behind
the young earth lunacy but most of the people in the world the vast majority do not have religious
views that conflict so glaringly with the findings of science.

Though I was brought up to believe in Christianity I was also brought up to have faith in Western science
and Western medicine, studying science subjects throughout my school years, before studying more
science at the University of Queensland, where I learned also to call myself a doctor of medicine. I lost
my belief in Christianity when I went through my adolescence, but retained my faith in Western science,
which I called science, but thought of as Science, with a capital S. Likewise I regarded Western medicine
as Medicine with a capital M. I believed in Science and Medicine, with little insight into what the
alternatives were, or much about the history of Science and Medicine.

Science, with a capital S includes western science as a subset. Science is global, not Western, Eastern,
Northern of Southern. Western science is what I studied, and what is commonly understood as being
science, but is only the western component of Science. Likewise Western medicine is a subset of
Medicine (which also includes Eastern and Indigenous medical knowledge). Nobody talks of southern or
northern medicine or science, but they do speak of Western science and medicine, as opposed to the
scientific and medical models of the East, of which there are several distinct traditions notably the
Islamic, Chinese and Indian systems, each with written traditions hundreds of years old, and each of
which has developed doctrines they have regarded as true, correct, and scientific. The Islamic, Chinese
and Indian scientific models have also yielded different medical models, with the common aim of
improving peoples heath healing. I learned nothing of these models when I studied at school and
university; in recent years I have spent more time trying to understand them, and see how they
contribute to our collective knowledge about nature (Science) and health (with an awareness that
Medicine is not quite the same as Health, and in fact both Western and Eastern medical practices often
have adverse effects on health individually and collectively).

In Russia, these days, there is much talk of the West, which is regarded as definitely not including
Russia. Russians regard themselves as belonging to the East in the East-West political divide, which is
also reflected in a scientific divide, which was clearly evident during the Cold War, despite the fact that
the Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev gave Science the Periodic Table of Elements, the basis of all
modern chemistry. During the Cold War, Eastern Bloc science was regarded with more scepticism in
the West than the reputable science that emanated from the English-speaking universities in the USA,
Canada and UK in Australia, despite that it is geographically in the far south-east. There are obvious
historical reasons for this. The result was that though we learned the Periodic Table, we werent told
that Mendeleev was Russian, just as we werent told that the algebra and the Arabic numerals we use in
the West came to Europe from the East and specifically from India via the great Islamic civilizations
of the Middle Ages. When I studied medicine we learned that William Harvey, an Englishman, had
discovered the heart-lung circulation in the 1600s and Jenner, also an Englishman, invented vaccination.
We werent told that these discoveries were made by Muslim physicians in Persia and Turkey, long
before. We learned how the Englishman James Parkinson had discovered Parkinsons Disease in the
19th century but never heard mention the name of the great Persian physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna) whose
texts were at the foundation of all of Western medicine, when he and other Muslim scholars challenged
the doctrines of Galen, the Greek-Roman physician to the gladiators, whose mistaken ideas about
anatomy and physiology had almost Biblical authority for more than a thousand years in the West.

Ivan Pavlov was one Russian scientist that was mentioned as an innovator in psychology; he would have
been difficult to ignore completely due to his contribution to the favoured school of psychology at the
University of Queensland at the time behaviourism. The American and British behaviourists based
their work on operant conditioning on the classical studies of Pavlov in Russia. It is household
knowledge that Pavlov conditioned dogs to salivate when a bell is rung what was called classical
conditioning. The Harvard psychologist Skinner continued Pavlovs tradition in training pigeons and
children, developing educational and child control programs based on positive and negative
reinforcement to encourage desirable behaviour and discourage undesirable behaviours. It was
assumed that it was adults who decided what was desirable or undesirable and administered the
rewards or punishments. Behaviour-modification programs became the rage, and they tried, in the East
and the West, various ways to program their citizens to be heterosexual (but not too much so), patriotic
and law-abiding. What this meant in practice varied between the different states that adopted
behaviour modification programs. In Western schools, there was a general improvement in terms of the
physical assault of children that was still common when I was a schoolboy in Sri Lanka in the 1970s.
Instead of ritualised assault, the behaviourists favoured time out at a punishment. This was a
significant improvement of the cuts that were given by cane or ruler in boys schools that were
established by the Western Churches throughout the colonized world.

I remember one teacher, when I was eight, who announced to the class that he had thought of a way to
improve our appalling spelling in English. I had recently started school at Trinity College in Kandy, the hill
capital of Sri Lanka, after migrating from England. English was my first language, so it wasnt that much
of a problem, but his idea was that for every word we got wrong we would get a cut. This meant
holding out our hand, while he hit it with the sharp side of a ruler. This is painful, but it doesnt actually
cut the skin; the teacher controls the assault such that no laceration occurs. It is an example of
behaviourism without sound humanity, morality or ethics, though his intent was pure, in that he was
just trying to encourage his student to learn correct spelling by punishing mistakes.

I cant remember if this teacher actually carried out his threat, but there were several teachers in Trinity
College who just hit students because they were angry; there were also ritual (and occasionally public)
canings. I know this to have been the case in schools throughout the British Empire, those run by both
the state and the church, though the problem of child sexual abuse seems to be more a feature of
Church schools (especially boarding schools) than state schools. Overall, this has been one of the most
striking and welcome changes in the school system in the West the fact that children are not beaten
into submission. Unfortunately, there are newer, equally cruel ways of controlling children that have
spread from the unholy alliance between drug companies and the medical profession labels of
conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder for children who were previously called juvenile
delinquents and labels like attention deficit disorder for children who were previously labelled as
having minimal brain damage or feeble-mindedness.

I wasnt assaulted by teachers much when I was at school (I was caned a couple of times) but that was
because I was extremely obedient. I listened attentively in class, even when the teacher was boring
(which was often enough). I raised my hand to ask a question and obeyed the rules the teacher
declared, however unjust they were. I memorised what I was instructed to memorise and memorised it
well enough to win subject prizes in what I took to be Science as well as religion (which was exclusively
Christianity as proclaimed by the Anglican Church or at least its branch in Sri Lanka). In science this
meant memorising mathematical laws and applying them, though I did not understand the derivation of
most of these laws, and memorising various Laws of Physics, though again I didnt understand the
derivation of these laws. In religion we studied selected bits of the New Testament, notably the four
Gospels and St Pauls voyages, described in the Acts of the Apostles. We were expected to commit to
memory the order in which St Paul visited various towns, beginning with Antioch in Syria, but were not
expected to know where, exactly Syria is, or its history other than the fact that St Paul started his voyage
there. This is what would be tested in the exam, and I learned to study in such a way as to maximise my
success in exams. This is not a good way to gain a holistic perspective of the world or a truly scientific
one (which is, I would argue, necessarily holistic).

Dating the Dinosaurs and Deep Time

When I was seven I was given a copy of Burian and Augustas classic Prehistoric Animals, a book that I
treasured. This was the antidote to the story of Noahs Ark, and it made more sense to me, despite the
fact that I struggled to understand the text.
The reason I loved this book so much was the pictures, which are exquisite. In 1963, when it was
published, it was revolutionary. Never before had the landscapes and animals of millions of years ago,
been brought to life so vividly. This is the Czech artist Zdenek Burians rendition of the Middle Devonian
landscape, about 400 million years ago:

In my opinion, Zdenek Burians art stands among the greatest human art of all time. It is not just
because of his excellent technique and aesthetic. It is his creative ability, his ability to bring fossils to life,
and to create realistic landscapes according to the scientific facts as they were understood at the time.
This required intimate knowledge of the plants as well as the animals, and the technical ability to draw
and paint them. It required close collaboration with the palaeontologist Josef Augusta and others. He
was a pioneer in art as well as science.

This painting of Diplodocus, from Prehistoric Animals, is one of close to 500 prehistoric images painted
by Burian between the early 1930s and 1981. He was a prolific artist, credited with over 15,000 works.

Though I accepted, because my books and my mother told me so, that the dinosaurs became extinct
about 60 million years ago, I did not know how palaeontologists came to this conclusion. I didnt realise
that there was a gradual evolution of understanding of the age of the earth, based on scientific evidence
as it unfolded over two centuries.

When the famous British geologist Charles Lyell published Principles of Geology in 1830 he argued that
the earth was at least 300 million years old. Scientists now estimate the age of the earth as about 4.5
billion years more than 10 times older based on radioisotope dating of the oldest rocks and
meteorites on earth. Lyells date of 300 million years suggested the age of the earth was much older
than most of his contemporaries thought in the West (though not as old as was taught by the doctrines
of Hinduism and Buddhism in the East).

Lyell proposed that the geological features of the earth (including the various layers of fossils) had
developed gradually by natural (physical) forces that were still at work, over hundreds of millions of
years (gradualism) while the dominant scientific view in the West was that of the French naturalist
Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) who thought the earth was only a few million years old at most. Cuvier,
who was also famous for his studies of comparative anatomy, was the first naturalist to establish, from
his studies of the fossil record, the now widely accepted fact of mass extinctions, which he attributed to
catastrophes, such as floods, volcanoes and earthquakes. These extinctions, according to Cuvier, were
followed by creations of new forms of life by God. The flood of the Old Testament was the most recent
of these catastrophic events. There developed a debate between catastrophists such as Cuvier and the
proponents of uniformitarianism also known as gradualism, first proposed by James Hutton in the late
18th century and popularised by Lyell in Principles of Geology. Lyell was a close friend and colleague of
Charles Darwin, providing him with a geological framework for the theory of natural selection, which
was also gradualist evolution, according to Darwin, occurred slowly and gradually, over millions of

The fact that deeper layers of fossils indicate earlier animals the basis of stratigraphy was established
by the Danish scientist (and later Catholic bishop) Nicholas Steno (1638-1686) who introduced the law of
superposition, the principle of original horizontality and the principle of lateral continuity in a 1669 work
on the fossilization of organic remains in layers of sediment. Steno logically surmised that at the time
when any given stratum was being formed, all the matter resting upon it was fluid, and, therefore, at
the time when the lower stratum was being formed, none of the upper strata existed. His principle of
original horizontality stated that strata either perpendicular to the horizon or inclined to the horizon
were at one time parallel to the horizon. Stenos principle of lateral continuity stated that sediments
initially extend laterally in all directions; his principle of cross-cutting relationships held that If a body or
discontinuity cuts across a stratum, it must have formed after that stratum. Steno's ideas still form the
basis of stratigraphy contributing to the development of James Hutton's theory of infinitely repeating
cycles of seabed deposition, uplifting, erosion, and submersion.

I did not grasp, until I was much older, that the geological eras the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic
are so named because of the types of animals fossilized in various geological strata, rather than the
absolute ages of the rocks, which were unknown at the time. The Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic
eras comprise the Phanerozoic eon (from 542 million years ago to the present) which is named as such
because of the fossils in various rock layers (strata). The geology is named according to the zoology
(hence Palaeozoic ancient life, Mesozoic middle life and Cenozoic new life). This is why different
sources have given different dates as to when each era began and ended. Scientists (or rather
naturalists) knew that the trilobites, which were plentiful and diverse before the age of the dinosaurs,
became extinct long before the dinosaurs did because the trilobite fossils were confined to deeper
layers of sedimentary rock. Likewise, they knew that the mastodons, mammoths and sabre-toothed cats
had become extinct more recently, since the dinosaurs were found in deeper (and thus older) layers of
rock. The first fish fossils are found in deeper layers still, and these were more ancient than the
dinosaurs (and other land vertebrates). On this basis they created a chronological sequence of the
zoology of deep time of which they were confident, dividing say the Mesozoic era into Triassic, Jurassic
and Cretaceous periods, and the Cenozoic era into older and younger periods based on the types of
fauna and flora preserved in the fossils, but were not so confident about the precise lengths of these
periods or of the larger eras and eons. This required the development of radioisotope dating in the 20th

There has been refinement and standardization of terminology over the years since then, and many
changes since I was a child and read for the time about the Age of Dinosaurs and the Age of Mammals.
By international convention, the older term Tertiary, referring to the period from 65 million years to 2.5
million years ago, was abandoned in 2004. Instead, the subdivision of the Cenozoic has been
standardized as divided into 3 periods and 7 epochs. The present Holocene epoch (the most recent
epoch of the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic era) began 12,000 years ago and is also known as the
Age of Man. The fact that it is not called the Age of Woman reflects the history of both science and
religion, as well as the history of philosophy. But Ill get to that later.

Nowadays the Proterozoic Phanerozoic boundary is precisely dated at 541 (1) million years ago. The
Phanerozoic eon encompasses the enormous period of time from 541 million years ago to the present,
but the preceding Proterozoic lasted even longer, from 2,500 to 542 million years ago. It used to be
thought that life began only during the Cambrian period, the first period of the Phanerozoic eon, but in
the last century there have been amazing discoveries of pre-Cambrian fossils, such as the Ediacara fossil
bed in South Australia and the Burgess Shale discoveries in Canada. These indicate that there was an
explosion of life at the end of the Proterozoic eon followed by a catastrophic mass extinction about 540
million years ago, in which only a few phyla survived. These surviving phyla have given rise to all the
species of animal vertebrate and invertebrate - on the planet today.

There was another mass extinction (the P-Tr extinction) about 250 million years ago, at the end of the
Permian period (the last period of Palaeozoic era) in which it is estimated that 95% of all marine species
(including the trilobites) and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species become extinct. It is the only known
mass extinction of insects, and is thought to be the worst extinction event that has occurred in the
history of life. The fossil record suggests that more than 50% of all families and 80% of all genera
became extinct. The cause of this catastrophic extinction is unknown; theories include meteor impact,
environmental change, massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia and sudden release of methane, by
methane-producing microbes, into the ocean. The fact that the extinction occurred is undisputed.

The P-Tr extinction marks the beginning of the Triassic period of the Mesozoic era, and the beginning of
the age of the dinosaurs, which fascinated me as a child, as it does children around the world today.
When I was a child, the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs, which had, by then, been fairly precisely
dated to 65 million years ago, was one of the great unanswered scientific mysteries.

The K-T boundary refers to the geological layer above which no dinosaurs are found. K-T stands for
Cretaceous-Tertiary, the Cretaceous period being the third period of the Mesozoic era (the Age of the
Dinosaurs) and the Tertiary period being the old (and now discarded) name for the first period of the
Cenozoic era, heralding the rise of mammals as the dominant vertebrate species on earth. The K-T
boundary has been radioisotope dated to 66 million years ago. It is estimated that 75% of the plant and
animal species, including the dinosaurs and plesiosaurs, became extinct over a period of a few million
years (though the time frame of extinction is subject to debate).

The discovery of iridium deposits at the K-T boundary in the 1970s by the Nobel-prize winning physicist
Luis Alvarez, may have solved this mystery. In 1980 Alvarez published evidence that he had discovered a
fine layer of iridium, which is abundant in asteroids but rare on earth, in a number of sites,
hypothesising that a large meteorite or comet had impacted with the earth, causing the mass extinction
that killed off the dinosaurs. The finding was challenged, as it should be, but subsequent findings have
supported Alvarezs hypothesis. In the 1990s evidence of a large impact crater called Chicxulub was
found off the coast of Mexico, providing support for the theory. Other researchers later found that the
extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous may have occurred rapidly in geological terms,
over thousands of years, rather than millions of years as had previously been supposed. Others have
suggested alternative extinction causes such as increased volcanism, particularly the massive Deccan
Traps eruptions in India that occurred around the same time, and climate change. However, on March 4,
2010, a panel of 41 scientists agreed that the Chicxulub asteroid impact triggered the mass extinction.

More recently still, evidence has emerged of another catastrophic extinction only 75,000 years ago,
when most of humanity may have been killed as a consequence of the massive explosion of the Toba
supervolcano in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, following which there may have been a period of
rapid cooling that lasted thousands of years. It was proposed in the 1990s, that the Toba explosion
produced a genetic bottleneck in human evolution. This hypothesis is supported by mitochondrial
DNA studies that suggest that today's humans are all descended from a very small population of
between 1,000 and 10,000 breeding pairs that existed about 70,000 years ago. There is recent evidence
that a small human population may have survived the Toba volcano in Jwalapuram, Southern India. A
2007 paper by Michael Petralgia and others, revealed stone tools found above and below the layer of
74,000 year-old Toba volcanic dust. The relative precision with which dates of events such as the Toba
explosion can be determined is due to the modern technology of radioisotope dating.

Radioisotope dating was discovered in the early 1900s. This is a dating technique that uses the rate of
natural radioactive decay of various elements, such as carbon, potassium or uranium in rocks or organic
material. Radiocarbon dating has transformed archaeology, while potassium-argon and uranium-lead
dating have transformed palaeontology and geology. Measuring the rate of decay of radioisotopes
enabled absolute dating rather than relative dating based on stratigraphy, for the first time. There are
several isotopes that can be used, suitable for different time frames. Carbon dating becomes inaccurate
for organic material more than 50,000 years old, but in this case potassium-argon, uranium-lead, or
uranium-thorium dating can be used. Of course these are not really absolute, in that they have a margin
of error, but the degree of confidence with which we can date the dinosaurs, the oldest rocks on earth
and our own human ancestors has dramatically improved over the past decades. We can be confident
that the earth is about 4.5 billion old, based on radioisotope dating of the oldest meteorites and rocks
found so far.

Believing that the dinosaurs existed millions of years ago doesnt prove the theory of evolution, of
course. It does mean that the world was not created on Sunday 23 October 4004 BC, the date calculated
by the Irish bishop James Ussher from a careful study of the Bible in the 17th century. Ussher calculated
the dates of other biblical events, concluding that Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden
on Monday 10 November 4004 BC. The bishop also calculated what he claimed was the exact date that
Noahs Ark touched down on Mt Ararat.
Though there are some variations in the proposed date, there is a Christian movement in the southern
Bible belt of USA that insists, like Ussher, that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and that the dinosaurs
died out during the flood that killed all the animals except those that Noah saved in the ark that God
commanded him to build. Gods plan was to destroy all of sinful mankind, of which Noah was the only
just man; he and his immediate family were saved from a devastating flood that killed all the people and
animals on the planet except those that Noah had saved. Noah had led these animals, according to the
tale I learned as a child, two by two (one male and one female) into a wooden ark (the dimensions of
which he had been given by God). All of humanity is therefore descended from Noah via his three sons,
Ham, Shem and Japheth. These fundamentalists, who take adopt a literal interpretation of Genesis, are
known as young Earth creationists, who comprise a segment of the Christian evangelical movement.
They run schools where the science curriculum includes the story of Noahs ark, not as a curious and
obviously incorrect tale, but as a real event in natural history. The Christian evangelical movement has
considerable political clout in the USA and is actively promoting this nonsense in missions throughout
the world, as well as at prayer events more like rock concerts than the traditional Church services of the
Anglican and Catholic churches.

There have been polls suggesting that as many as 40% of Americans think the earth is less than 10,000
years old, though these polls have been questioned, since it seems to depend on how the questions are
worded. Surveys have asked about peoples belief in the age of the earth, and also about evolution of
both humans and other animals. Americans are more prepared to accept evolution of animals than of
humans. The National Center for Science Education in the USA, which promotes the teaching of
evolution, assessed in 2013, in the light of earlier claims that 40% of Americans believed in a young
earth that was less than 10,000 years old, that the hard core of young-earth creationists represents at
most one in ten Americansmaybe about 31 million peoplewith another quarter favouring
creationism but not necessarily committed to a young earth. One or two in ten seem firmly committed
to evolution, and another third leans heavily toward evolution. About a third of the public in the middle
are open to evolution, but feel strongly that a god or gods must have been involved somehow, and wind
up in different camps depending how a given poll is worded.

It seems that people are more prepared to accept evolution if it doesnt conflict with their religious
beliefs. If the questions are worded such that they bring into question their belief in God, Americans in
the USA are less likely to say they believe in evolution. They show some reluctance in accepting that we
are descended from apes, and are closely related to chimpanzees, as Charles Darwin proposed in The
Descent of Man, published in 1871. They show even more reluctance to agree that we are apes,
regarding humans as being related to, but fundamentally different from chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas,
orangutans and gibbons (the five other species of ape). The leaders of the Anglican and Catholic
churches began by opposing Darwins theory when it was first proposed but they have accepted it for
many years, developing theological arguments that reconciled evolution with God, to the satisfaction of
most of their respective congregations. Even the Jehovahs Witnesses, who used to go house to house
arguing against evolution, have largely given up on insisting that the earth is only 6,000 years old and
that evolution is a wicked lie dreamed up atheists like Charles Darwin. The young-Earth creationists have
a more entrenched delusion, based on their rigid adherence to the literal word of the Bible.
Most Christians accept the scientific view that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and that humans
evolved in Africa from ancestors we share with chimpanzees. This common ancestor lived about 6
million years ago in equatorial Africa, where our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees, bonobos and
gorillas are confined to this day. Our early ancestors then migrated to the plains of Africa, evolving
through various species to our present modern Homo sapiens. The fossil evidence of this evolution,
including all the missing links one needs to believe in human evolution from hominid ancestors in
Africa, proves beyond doubt that, as Charles Darwin argued 150 years ago, we all have common
ancestors in Africa.

The discovery of various species of Australopithecus in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, beginning with the
discoveries of Louis and Mary Leakey in the 1950s, has indicated some of the early diversity of hominin
evolution, with several species of Australopithecus coexisting in Africa millions of years ago.

Louis Leakey, though the son of missionaries and a devout Christian, was convinced that Darwin was
right and that humans evolved in Africa. His discoveries and those of his wife Mary and son Richard
proved beyond reasonable doubt that this is the case. The fossil record indicates that some hominins
became extinct, including some species of Australopithecus, as well as, probably, the Homo erectus
populations in China and Indonesia. There is currently scientific consensus, based on DNA evidence, that
all of humanity, including the populations of Asia, Australia and the Americas, are descended from a
population of modern Homo sapiens that left Africa as recently as 100,000 years ago, and that the
earlier Homo erectus populations that had left Africa a million years earlier (and others, like Homo
floresiensis, fossils of which were found in the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, and dated to 38,000
to 13,000 years ago by carbon dating) became extinct. There is debate about the fate of Neanderthal
Man (Homo neanderthalensis) in Europe, some believing that these people were killed by invading
groups of modern Homo sapiens (Cro-Magnon Man), though there is evidence, from DNA which has
been recovered from Neanderthal remains, that there was some interbreeding between Neanderthals
and modern Homo sapiens (in Eurasia, where all the Neanderthal remains have been discovered so far).
There is also disagreement about whether Neanderthals should be regarded as a different subspecies,
rather than species, from our own (in which case they are termed Homo sapiens neanderthalensis rather
than Homo neanderthalensis).

We can be confident that one or other species of Australopithecus, confined to the African continent,
evolved into Homo sapiens. This occurred over several million years via Homo erectus and maybe Homo
habilis, though the details are still uncertain, partly because the definition of what constitutes a species
is problematic when it comes to extinct animals (including hominids and hominins). Living creatures can
be defined as separate species if they cannot interbreed and produce fertile offspring. This is how
various butterfly and bird species, which look very similar, are known to be of different species. When it
comes to extinct animals, other criteria need to be used to determine if two fossils are of the same or
different genus or species. There is no clear cut-off point between one species and the species it evolves
into. A corollary of this is that there was no first man or first woman. Our ancestors gradually
became human over many, many generations.

When I was a boy, I learned that the famous Peking Man and Java Man fossils, discovered in the 19th
century, belonged to the genus Pithecanthropus, rather than our own Homo genus. In anthropology
lectures at university, when I was 17, I learned that these are now classified as Homo erectus and have
been dated to about one million years ago. The details of how these early hominin fossil discoveries fit
together with subsequent discoveries is becoming clearer as dating techniques improve. This is one of
the most dynamic and exciting areas of science, and has been for the past half century, since the
discoveries by the Leakey family in east Africa and the discovery of DNA in the 1950s. The exact lines of
descent are still being worked out, aided by modern DNA archaeology and new fossil discoveries.

In The Origin of Species Darwin provided evidence of evolution as well as a theory of how different
species evolve the theory of natural selection. The evidence, more so than the fossil records, came
from his studies of comparative anatomy and behaviour between various animal species, and variation
within a species. He argued that there is a struggle for life (or struggle for existence), between
individuals and varieties of the same species in which the best adapted individuals survive, passing
their particular variations (inherited traits) to the next generation. The key factor was reproductive
success, rather than mere survival. Those individuals that had the most surviving, reproducing offspring
passed on the variations (such as a longer or stouter beak in birds) to subsequent generations.
Speciation occurs when populations became isolated, and different environmental factors (including
predators and plants) determine which variations are selected for by natural selection. Darwin did not
coin the phrase survival of the fittest (it was coined by Herbert Spencer after reading The Origin of
Species), but he agreed with it, and used it himself in the 5th edition of The Origin of Species (published
in 1869).
In formulating his theory, Darwin drew on the older theories of the geologist James Hutton and his own
grandfather Erasmus Darwin, a physician and naturalist, and author of Zoonomia (published in 1794),
which Darwin read and commented on. Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) wrote in Zoonomia that the
strongest and most active animal should propagate the species, which should thence become improved
and that the earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages before the commencement of the history of
mankind. James Hutton (1726-1797) , who developed the theory of uniformitarianism that was
promoted by Lyell in Principles of Geology, had written, in 1794 in Investigation of the Principles of
Knowledge that, if an organised body is not in the situation and circumstances best adapted to its
sustenance and propagation, then, in conceiving an indefinite variety among the individuals of that
species, we must be assured, that, on the one hand, those which depart most from the best adapted
constitution, will be the most liable to perish, while, on the other hand, those organised bodies, which
most approach to the best constitution for the present circumstances, will be best adapted to continue,
in preserving themselves and multiplying the individuals of their race.

Other compelling evidence of evolution comes from the fields of embryology and comparative biology
(botany and zoology). The similarity between various species was the basis of Linnaeuss classification
according to phylum, order, family and genus, in Systema Naturae (published in 1735, more than a
century before Darwins Origin of Species). It is obvious that various cats belong in the same group, and
are more closely related to each other than are various types of monkey. Linnaeus believed in Biblical
creationism as an explanation for the marvellous creatures from all over the world that he collected and
classified, creating the Latin nomenclature of genus and species names and general framework of
taxonomy that we use to this day (and Darwin assumed in developing his theory of how speciation came
about in the 19th century). The definition of species as being unable to breed together and produce
fertile offspring came later, from Alfred Russel Wallace, based on his studies of Malaysian butterflies
Wallaces studies of butterflies led him to conclusions similar to those Charles Darwin had arrived at by
studying variations in the beaks of birds off the South American coast decades earlier (in the Galapagos
Islands, where Darwin shot fifteen species of what he called finches and studied differences in the
length and shape of their bills, concluding that they must have had a common ancestor from the
mainland sometime in the past).

Darwin and Wallace independently developed the theory of evolution by natural selection a century
before the discovery of DNA and genes, which provided a chemical explanation for evolution, and a
mechanism that explains the process by which traits are inherited. DNA could be used to explain how
simple life has given rise to the complexity of multicellular organisms such as ourselves, since all living
organisms (as we understand them) require DNA to code for the proteins that provide the basic
structure of a cell. Long before Darwin it had been established, with the discovery of the microscope,
that all life is composed of cells. Cells are the building blocks of all plants and animals, including
ourselves. This is one of the great discoveries of Western science, and all of Science. DNA is another and
has become a household word (or acronym, if less people know what it means) leading it to me
misused and misunderstood. The Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott recently declared that fiscal
prudence is in the DNA of the Liberal Party.
The biological importance of DNA is frequently exaggerated. It is true, of course, that the DNA in our
chromosomes code for the synthesis of proteins and proteins are biologically vital molecules. They are
also responsible for inheritance of various traits and the physical forms (structure) of living organisms.
The physical form and function of cells and collections of cells (in organs and organisms) is based on the
DNA code in a very fundamental way, but there are many other factors that influence structure and
function. The idea that there is a gene for this or that disease has generated many millions for
research, most of it wasted, but there are bigger problems than the wastage of time and money.
Genetic studies have a long history of pseudo-science with catastrophic social and political results, which
we will get to soon.

This process of evolution depends on gradual change over enormous periods of time deep time. Deep
time is measured in millions of years rather than hundreds and thousands. This makes what seems
somewhat miraculous the gradual development of the wonders of life on the planet explainable.
According to the British biologist Richard Dawkins the seeming miracle of evolution can be best
explained by the theory of natural selection, as described by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace
in the 1850s. I agree with him, and see no reason to call evolution a theory, rather than a fact. He says
this himself, and that it is called a theory only for technical reasons. He points out that this
sometimes leads to people thinking that this means it is only a theory and therefore can be taught, in
schools alongside the alternative theory of intelligent design the old Christian theological argument
that the perfection and wonders of nature imply an Intelligent Designer or God. Darwins theory,
according to Dawkins and others, removes the need for any sort of creator God, whether Yahweh, Allah
or Brahma. This has led to a stand-off between creationists and evolutionists and public debates as
to whether religion (creationism) is inconsistent with the discoveries of science (evolution). There
are, of course many religious people who believe in evolution, but it is true that religious belief can get
in the way of accepting and understanding evolutionary biology, if this religious belief is that the earth is
only a few thousand years old, or that humanity originated from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden or
Noah and his sons.

According to Salman Hameed, who teaches astronomy and religious studies at Hampshire College in
Amherst, Massachusetts, disbelief in evolution is also a problem in Muslim society, though evolution is
taught in the textbooks of most Islamic nations. He has lectured in Pakistan on reconciling evolution
with Islam and is concerned about the rise of creationism in the Muslim world. Hameed is trying to
promote the teaching of evolution in Islamic countries, and is concerned that Richard Dawkins and other
atheists will push Muslims away from evolution. In an interview with New Scientist he said that a large
portion of people, vast majorities, reject evolution. Compared to the US, where 40% are comfortable
with evolution, in the Muslim countries that would go down to 10, 15, or 20%. In Turkey, one of the
more secular Muslim countries, the level is between 22 and 25%.These low acceptance rates are
because evolution has not been in the public discourse, so it depends on what people believe evolution
is. Right now, there is a misperception that evolution equals atheism.

Hameed says that the Koran itself does not provide a single clear-cut verse that contradicts evolution
and that in the Muslim countries, young Earth creationism is non-existent, but evolution has become a
symbol for Western dominance and a sign of modernity. There is a concern that believing in evolution
leads to atheism. Hameed is concerned that Richard Dawkins is feeding this fear, and pushing Muslims
away from evolution, but that Muslims have a deep faith in science, with a long scientific tradition of
which they are proud. He thinks that convincing Muslims about the facts of evolution is just a matter of
time and good presentation of the evidence, and that existing textbooks make a good start.

The ancient texts of Hinduism and Buddhism contrast dramatically with the Book of Genesis in their
claims about the age of the cosmos and the Earth. The myths of Hinduism and Buddhism about yugas
and kalpas also contradict science, when it comes to the age of the earth, though not quite as
dramatically as the Book of Genesis and the story of Noahs ark. These religions speak of epochs of time,
known as yugas, which have occurred in cycles for billions or even trillions of years. The yugas, which
occur in continuous cycles from a golden age known as the satya yuga, when men were taller and lived
longer due to their greater virtuosity to the kali yuga, a dark age, when men were shorter in height and
lifespan, corresponding to their greater evil. According to the Manu smriti (Laws of Manu), one of the
earliest known texts describing the yugas, the length of the satya yuga is 4800 years, the next treta yuga
lasts 3600 years, followed by the dvapara yuga for 2400 years and the final kali yuga, in which the
authors believed they lived lasted 1200 years. The beginning of the kali yuga was dated to the battle of
Kurukshetra, the main story of the Mahabharata.

The supposed life span and height of men during the progression of the yugas, is ridiculous men of the
satya yuga lived 100,000 years, in the treta yuga they lived 10,000 years, in the dvapara yuga they lived
1,000 years and in our present kali yuga they live 100 years (with a prediction that they will, as the
burden of sin shortens their height and lifespan, shrink to little dwarfs with a lifespan of only 30 years,
before ascending back through the sequence of yugas to another golden age (satya yuga, when people
will again live for 100,000 years).

According to Hindu tradition, the Manu smriti records the words of Brahma, and that the first man,
Manu, was the creator gods son. He was created in India, needless to say. Religion is not static though,
and there have been many developments in Hinduism since the Laws of Manu were composed.
Hinduism is a very diverse religion, if indeed it is one. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has
claimed that Hinduism is a way of life rather than a religion. It includes, for example, philosophers who
deny the existence of gods but still call themselves Hindus.

The Manu Smriti was one of the first Sanskrit texts studied by the European philologists, first translated
into English by Sir William Jones, whose version was published in 1794. Jones considered Manu's laws to
be older than the laws of Solon the mythical lawgiver of Sparta as well as Lycurgus, the legendary
lawgiver of Athens, whose laws he thought may have been adopted from the Manu smrti, transmitted
to them orally rather than in writing. In his book Bible in India (1869), Louis Jacolliot, a judge and not a
scientist, wrote that Manu smriti was the foundation upon which the Egyptian, the Persian, the Grecian
and the Roman codes of law were built and that the influence of Manu is still felt in Europe. Jacolloit
was interested possible Indian origins of western occultism, and drew comparisons between the legends
of Krishna and Christ, concluding that the account in the Gospels is a myth based on the mythology of
ancient India.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), who famously declared the death of God, was
also an admirer of the Manu smriti, based on his reading of a translation by Jacolliot, deeming it "an
incomparably spiritual and superior work" to the Christian Bible. Nietzsche also considered the Hindu
caste system promoted in the Laws of Manu to be a good idea. Jacolloit also favoured the theory of a
now submerged continent, in either the Indian or the Pacific Ocean, called Lemuria. Helena Blavatsky
and the Theosophists drew on Jacolliots writings to argue for the existence of a continent called
Lemuria that was submerged in a great flood. Blavatsky based her opinions not on science but on divine
revelation and selective readings of occult literature to conclude that Lemuria was home to a root
race that was 7 feet tall, sexually hermaphroditic, egg-laying, mentally undeveloped and spiritually
more pure than the following "root races. This is, to say the least, bizarre, and modern geological
understanding of tectonic plates conclusively disproves the theory of Lemuria. In ignorance of the
geological facts, some Tamil writers such as Devaneya Pavanar have tried to associate Lemuria with
Kumari Kandam, a legendary sunken landmass mentioned in the Tamil literature, claiming that it was
the cradle of civilization.

Kalpa is a Sanskrit word (Hindi: kalpa) meaning an aeon in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology. The
duration of time of a kalpa varies between various Buddhist and Hindu schools of thought. The sage
Gautama Siddhartha (the Buddha) is not known to have given a precise definition of how long a kalpa
lasts but is claimed to have said that if you count the total number of sand particles at the depths of the
Ganges river, from where it begins to where it ends at the sea, even that number will be less than the
number of passed kalpas.

The Hindu Bhagavad Gita, which is part of the Mahabharata epic, states that a kalpa is a day of Brahm,
and one day of Brahm consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages. The duration of each of
these yugas has hugely increased since the composition of the Manu smriti, with the interpretation that
one year of the demigods was 360 human years. This makes the figures astronomical, and pushes back
the creation of the universe much further back in time than the Big Bang theory does.

In the 2006 Channel 4 documentary The Root of All Evil? Dawkins confronted one of the leaders of the
Christian evangelical movement in the USA, Pastor Ted Haggard, about the Biblical creation myth and his
disbelief in evolution. This was after one of Haggards services, which featured a musical group armed
with electric guitars and drumsticks rather than guns or swords. Though the documentary doesnt show
much of what was said at the service its clear that there were children running about, jumping around
and praising Jesus with their parents. It was rather like a rock concert, but without the sex or drugs - a
benign rock concert for the whole family to praise Jesus. Rock concerts are attended by fans of rock
stars, who are treated as demigods by their fans. These were Jesus fans, rather than Haggard fans, as far
as I could tell. There is no sign that he was trying to build a cult, though he may well have been trying to
make money by Jesus talk. The whole event looked silly rather than sinister.

Dawkins begins by sarcastically complimenting Haggard on his show which he says must have cost a
lot of money. The pastor smiles and agrees, saying he wanted it to be fun. Dawkins then says that it
reminds him of the Nuremberg rally and the Dr Goebbels would be proud. Haggard ignores this
provocative comparison with the Nazis and says that he doesnt know anything about Nuremberg rallies,
but others have compared it to a rock concert. This was my first impression too - a rather nerdy rock

It seems to me that comparing evangelical Christianity with Nazism is rather unfair. Evangelical
Christians may be deluded about the age of the earth, but theirs is a movement obviously more religious
than political, and doesnt promote hatred or violence (though it may promote the idea that non-
believers are wicked and sinful, hence feeding hatred and violence indirectly) .The Nazis were a political
party, not a religious organization, and were extremely scientific in their methods. In their policies of
mass-murder of psychiatric patients, homosexuals, Jews and Gypsies, the Nazis were motivated not by
religious fervour but by German nationalist fanaticism and the scientific dogmas of eugenics they were
trying to breed a superior Aryan race by eliminating the undesirables, beginning with the inmates of
their asylums, and continuing on to kills millions using very scientific, but cruelly inhumane methods.
The Nazi rallies, which Goebbels orchestrated as the propaganda minister, did have a certain religious
flavour, perhaps, in which the Hitler was idol-worshipped, but the National Socialists justified their evils
in the name of science rather than religion.

Eugenics, from the Greek for good breeding is a scientific term coined by Francis Galton in the 1880s
at Cambridge University in England, and actively propagated around the world. The eugenics movement
was spearheaded by Galton and Charles Darwins son, Major Leonard Darwin, who together founded
the eugenics education society in 1907. In 1926 the Eugenics Education Society was renamed the
Eugenics Society, and included several literary, political and scientific intellectuals of the time. The
biggest rival to the British Eugenics Society was the American Eugenics Society; Galtons ideas of
segregation and sterilization of defectives led to thousands of eugenic sterilizations in the USA
between 1890 and 1910, mainly of boys who had been labelled as feeble-minded. It comes as no
surprise that Galton had the support of British academia as a whole, for his basic theory that the cream
of upper-class British society, the most brilliant of whom were mathematicians in Cambridge, were
naturally endowed with genius (or intelligence) than the lower classes of society, and that the lower
classes were breeding too fast. They agreed that something needed to be done to control the disparity
in breeding rate between the classes, for the preservation of the finest aspects of the British race and
British civilization. There were intellectuals who denounced eugenics at the time, for lack of scientific
credibility and dubious ethics, but they were not able to stop the doctrine from taking root in academic
and political circles, in Europe (especially Germany and Scandinavia), the USA, Australia and Canada.

Darwin wrote an appreciative letter to Galton after reading Hereditary Genius. Galton wrote a grateful
reply which is also reproduced here.

Letter from Darwin to Galton.


December 23rd

"MY DEAR GALTON,--I have only read about 50 pages of your book (to the Judges), but I must exhale
myself, else something will go wrong in my inside. I do not think I ever in all my life read anything more
interesting and original--and how well and clearly you put every point! George, who has finished the
book, and who expressed himself in just the same terms, tells me that the earlier chapters are nothing in
interest to the later ones! It will take me some time to get to these latter chapters, as it is read aloud to
me by my wife, who is also much interested. You have made a convert of an opponent in one sense, for I
have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard
work; and I still think this is an eminently important difference. I congratulate you on producing what I
am convinced will prove a memorable work. I look forward with intense interest to each reading, but it
sets me thinking so much that I find it very hard work; but that is wholly the fault of my brain and not of
your beautifully clear style.--Yours most sincerely,

(Signed) "CH. DARWIN"

This appears in The Letters of Charles Darwin as LETTER 410.

The idea that some races and classes are genetically superior to others was the keystone of eugenics,
which was developed by Charles Darwins cousin Francis Galton and promoted by Darwins son, Leonard
Darwin from the 1880s onwards. Basing their ideas on what they took to be the latest scientific and
statistical evidence (based on IQ testing), the eugenicists recommended social programs of segregation,
sterilization and prevention of marriage of those deemed to be feeble-minded or insane. This was in
order to improve the stock in Britain, which they feared was racially degenerating due to the
proliferation of the inferior lower classes. The same thinking was applied globally in terms of the relative
merits of different races, resulting in different evils in the various nations that embraced eugenics
There were two sides to eugenics positive eugenics and negative eugenics. In positive eugenics the
good or desirable individuals were given various incentives to have large families. Under the Nazi
regime this was the ideal Nordic type with blonde hair and blue eyes (and also tall, healthy and
intelligent, according to Nazi standards) who were regarded as the most superior type of the Aryan race.
The concept of an Aryan race was based on a confusion between language and race, which is still
sometimes made today, but was a feature of mainstream scientific thought in the 19th century. German
scholars had confirmed the earlier observation by Dutch and Italian missionaries that the Hindu sacred
language of Sanskrit had remarkable similarities to European languages what are now called Indo-
European languages. In the 19th century, German philologists spoke of Indo-Germanic languages, placing
primacy on German over the other, and it is now known, earlier European languages. The Aryan race of
the Nazis was a mythical race that spoke the Aryan languages, the older term for the Indo-European
languages. In recent times debate about the Indo-European languages has continued, including
academic debate about the locality in which these languages first developed, as proto-Indo-European
or PIE. The most favoured PIE homeland is presently southern Russia, based on the work of Marija
Gimbutas, though others have proposed Anatolia, while a few scholars such as Conrad Elst argue that
the PIE homeland, and the origin of the Indo-European languages was in India (the Out of India theory).

In 18th and 19th century India, the British colonials and Indologists divided the many languages of India as
being Aryan (north Indian) or Dravidian (south Indian) corresponding to Aryan and Dravidian races. The
Dravidian darker-skinned race comprised those that spoke the Dravidian languages, such as Tamil,
Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam in the southern half of India. The northern Indians were thought to
have a mixture of Aryan and indigenous (Dravidian) blood, but that the uppermost caste the Brahmins
were more Aryan and therefore lighter-skinned, and that the skin colour prejudice so rife in India,
stems from this history. This race distinction has been challenged since then, as well as the colonial
claim that the Sanskrit language was introduced to India by invading, white (or lighter skinned) Aryans
who, armed with the superior technology of horses and chariots, conquered and dominated the less
vigorous and technologically advanced Dravidian inhabitants of the subcontinent.

The eugenics policies promoted by Galton and later taken up by Winston Churchill and others, were
focused on negative more so than positive eugenics. They advocated two primary means of
preventing defectives from breeding imprisonment in labour camps and sterilization. Churchill
favoured irradiation of the gonads with x-rays as an effective means of sterilization, but accepted that a
small operation may also be necessary for girls, inquiring into the necessary changes in law to permit
them. He promoted a policy of imprisonment of mental defectives for life perhaps using the
incentive of freedom to encourage the best behaved feeble-minded individuals to seek voluntary
sterilization. According to Martin Gilbert, writing for The Churchill Centre, in 1911 Churchill spoke to the
British House of Commons about the need to introduce compulsory labour camps for mental
defectives. The year before, Churchill had argued that were at least 120,000 feeble minded people at
large in our midst who deserved all that could be done for them by a Christian and scientific
civilization now that they are in the world, but who should be segregated under proper conditions so
that their curse died with them and was not transmitted to future generations.
Churchills official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, wrote in 2009 (in a webpage titled Churchill and
Eugenics) that:

Such detention, as well as sterilization, were at that time the two main cures to feeble-
mindedness. They were put forward by the eugenicists, those who believed in the possibility of
improving the qualities of the human species or a human population by such means as
discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable
undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to
have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).

Mental defectives was a collective term for people who were given specific labels of defectiveness
according to the science of eugenics developed by Galton and merged with contemporary psychiatry
and neurology in a somewhat uncomfortable alliance. The terms they used to classify various degrees of
intellectual impairment idiot, imbecile, moron and feeble-minded - have become common terms of
abuse around the world. These terms were initially classes of patients based on Intelligence Quotients
or IQs, a concept pioneered by Galton, though he did not invent the term. Idiots had an IQ of 0-25,
imbeciles an IQ of 26-50, morons an IQ of 51-70, and the feeble-minded were judged as more intelligent
that idiots, imbeciles or morons, but also included people who were judged to be mentally defective on
the basis of criminality or insanity.

Some scientists dispute IQ entirely. In The Mismeasure of Man (1996), the Harvard palaeontologist
Stephen Jay Gould criticized IQ tests and argued that they were used for scientific racism. He argued
that the abstraction of intelligence as a single entity, its location within the brain, its quantification as
one number for each individual, and the use of these numbers to rank people in a single series of
worthiness, invariably to find that oppressed and disadvantaged groupsraces, classes, or sexesare
innately inferior and deserve their status.(pp. 2425)

Another dubious claim that has been rather more enduring was that schizophrenia is a genetic
defect. This was made in Stalinist Russia to justify incarceration and treatment of political and social
dissidents in the 1950s, following the Nazi policy of euthanasia (good or mercy killing), the euphemism
for mass-murder favoured by the Nazis as a cure for mental illness, who were central to defining what
constituted schizophrenia (then called dementia praecox) in the first place, with the work of Professor
Emil Kraepelin at the Heidelberg University. The search for a schizophrenia gene, with many false claims
of success, has continued for many decades since then. Likewise there is a general belief in the West
that alcoholism is a genetic disease, with a total ignorance of the influence of alcohol advertising,
and relative susceptibility to such things as advertising and peer group pressure.

In 1899 Winston Churchill, who became a fervent supporter of draconian eugenic measures, wrote to
his cousin Ivor Guest that, the improvement of the British breed is my aim in life. His biographer, Sir
Martin Gilbert, writes:

Like most of his contemporaries, family and friends, he regarded races as different, racial
characteristics as signs of maturity of a society, and racial purity as endangered not only by
other races but by mental weaknesses in a race. As a young politician in Britain entering
parliament in 1901, Churchill saw what were then known as the feeble-minded and the insane
as a threat to the prosperity, vigour and virility of British society.

As the years passed, Churchills paranoia about the feeble-minded and insane classes increased, to the
point that he regarded British racial health a serious and urgent issue. He wrote to Prime Minister H H
Asquith in 1910 that:

The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the Feeble-Minded and Insane classes, coupled
as it is with a steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks, constitutes a
national and race danger which it is impossible to exaggerate. I am convinced that the
multiplication of the Feeble-Minded, which is proceeding now at an artificial rate, unchecked by
any of the old restraints of nature, and actually fostered by civilised conditions, is a terrible
danger to the race.

Churchill had been impressed by

In recent years Dawkins has tried to resurrect the discredited idea of eugenics, reframing what are
meant by positive and negative eugenics in a positive light. He argues that sixty years after the
Holocaust, and Hitlers implementation of what in his madness he called eugenics, but was really
pseudoscience, it is time to start discussing the topic again. He has introduced the idea of intelligently
designing human children to enhance such things as musicality or athleticism. He compares forcing
children to have music lessons with genetically engineering children to be more musical. Disregarding
the historical meaning of the phrase (which led to the genocide of the Nazis and sterilization programs
in the USA, Canada, Europe and elsewhere into the 1970s) Dawkins redefines negative eugenics as the
very reasonable practice of aborting foetuses with serious chromosomal abnormalities (such as Downs
syndrome) which is currently done in many countries around the world, and has been for many years.
This could be extended in what Dawkins classifies as negative eugenics to abort or select (in in vitro
fertilization) embryos with known genes for breast and other cancers, or known genetic abnormalities
like Huntingtons Disease.

Nietszche may have admired the caste system espoused by the Manu smriti, but there are plenty of
people who dont, including myself. The caste system and caste laws are regarded by some as integral to
Hinduism, though this may not be so. In the Manu smriti, believed by some Hindus to be the divine word
of Brahma, there are many things to be criticised on the basis of modern ideas of morality, especially
regarding the treatment of women and the lower castes.

Some such comments about women in the Manusmriti have been posted on the website Nirmukta, in
the aim of promoting science, free thought and secular humanism in India. It was compiled by Hirday

1. Swabhav ev narinam .. 2/213. It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world; for that
reason the wise are never unguarded in the company of females.
2. Avidvam samlam.. 2/214. Women, true to their class character, are capable of leading astray
men in this world, not only a fool but even a learned and wise man. Both become slaves of desire.

3. Matra swastra .. 2/215. Wise people should avoid sitting alone with ones mother, daughter
or sister. Since carnal desire is always strong, it can lead to temptation.

4. Naudwahay.. 3/8. One should not marry women who has have reddish hair, redundant
parts of the body [such as six fingers], one who is often sick, one without hair or having excessive hair
and one who has red eyes.

5. Nraksh vraksh .. 3/9. One should not marry women whose names are similar to
constellations, trees, rivers, those from a low caste, mountains, birds, snakes, slaves or those whose
names inspires terror.

6. Yasto na bhavet .. .. 3/10. Wise men should not marry women who do not have a brother and
whose parents are not socially well known.

7. Uchayangh. 3/11. Wise men should marry only women who are free from bodily defects,
with beautiful names, grace/gait like an elephant, moderate hair on the head and body, soft limbs and
small teeth.

8. Shudr-aiv bharya 3/12.Brahman men can marry Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaish and even Shudra
women but Shudra men can marry only Shudra women.

9. Na Brahman kshatriya.. 3/14. Although Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaish men have been allowed
inter-caste marriages, even in distress they should not marry Shudra women.

10. Heenjati striyam.. 3/15. When twice born [dwij=Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaish] men in their
folly marry low caste Shudra women, they are responsible for the degradation of their whole family.
Accordingly, their children adopt all the demerits of the Shudra caste.

11. Shudram shaynam 3/17. A Brahman who marries a Shudra woman, degrades himself and his
whole family ,becomes morally degenerated , loses Brahman status and his children too attain status of

12. Daiv pitrya 3/18. The offerings made by such a person at the time of established rituals
are neither accepted by God nor by the departed soul; guests also refuse to have meals with him and he
is bound to go to hell after death.

13. Chandalash 3/240. Food offered and served to Brahman after Shradh ritual should not
be seen by a chandal, a pig, a cock,a dog, and a menstruating women.

14. Na ashniyat. 4/43. A Brahman, true defender of his class, should not have his meals in
the company of his wife and even avoid looking at her. Furthermore, he should not look towards her
when she is having her meals or when she sneezes/yawns.
15. Na ajyanti. 4/44. A Brahman in order to preserve his energy and intellect, must not
look at women who applies collyrium to her eyes, one who is massaging her nude body or one who is
delivering a child.

16. Mrshyanti. 4/217. One should not accept meals from a woman who has extra marital
relations; nor from a family exclusively dominated/managed by women or a family whose 10 days of
impurity because of death have not passed.

17. Balya va. 5/150. A female child, young woman or old woman is not supposed to work
independently even at her place of residence.

18. Balye pitorvashay. 5/151. Girls are supposed to be in the custody of their father when they
are children, women must be under the custody of their husband when married and under the custody
of her son as widows. In no circumstances is she allowed to assert herself independently.

19. Asheela kamvrto 5/157. Men may be lacking virtue, be sexual perverts, immoral and
devoid of any good qualities, and yet women must constantly worship and serve their husbands.

20. Na ast strinam.. 5/158. Women have no divine right to perform any religious ritual, nor
make vows or observe a fast. Her only duty is to obey and please her husband and she will for that
reason alone be exalted in heaven.

21. Kamam to 5/160. At her pleasure [after the death of her husband], let her emaciate
her body by living only on pure flowers, roots of vegetables and fruits. She must not even mention the
name of any other men after her husband has died.

22. Vyabhacharay 5/167. Any women violating duty and code of conduct towards her
husband, is disgraced and becomes a patient of leprosy. After death, she enters womb of Jackal.

23. Kanyam bhajanti.. 8/364. In case women enjoy sex with a man from a higher caste, the act is
not punishable. But on the contrary, if women enjoy sex with lower caste men, she is to be punished
and kept in isolation.

24. Utmam sevmansto. 8/365. In case a man from a lower caste enjoys sex with a woman from a
higher caste, the person in question is to be awarded the death sentence. And if a person satisfies his
carnal desire with women of his own caste, he should be asked to pay compensation to the womens

25. Ya to kanya. 8/369. In case a woman tears the membrane [hymen] of her Vagina, she
shall instantly have her head shaved or two fingers cut off and made to ride on Donkey.

26. Bhartaram. 8/370. In case a women, proud of the greatness of her excellence or her
relatives, violates her duty towards her husband, the King shall arrange to have her thrown before dogs
at a public place.
27. Pita rakhshati. 9/3. Since women are not capable of living independently, she is to be kept
under the custody of her father as child, under her husband as a woman and under her son as widow.

28. Imam hi sarw.. 9/6. It is the duty of all husbands to exert total control over their wives. Even
physically weak husbands must strive to control their wives.

29. Pati bharyam . 9/8. The husband, after the conception of his wife, becomes the embryo and
is born again of her. This explains why women are called Jaya.

30. Panam durjan 9/13. Consuming liquor, association with wicked persons, separation from
her husband, rambling around, sleeping for unreasonable hours and dwelling -are six demerits of

31. Naita rupam 9/14. Such women are not loyal and have extra marital relations with men
without consideration for their age.

32. Poonshchalya 9/15. Because of their passion for men, immutable temper and natural
heartlessness, they are not loyal to their husbands.

33. Na asti strinam 9/18. While performing namkarm and jatkarm, Vedic mantras are not to be
recited by women, because women are lacking in strength and knowledge of Vedic texts. Women are
impure and represent falsehood.

34. Devrasapinda 9/58. On failure to produce offspring with her husband, she may obtain
offspring by cohabitation with her brother-in-law [devar] or with some other relative [sapinda] on her
in-laws side.

35. Vidwayam. 9/60. He who is appointed to cohabit with a widow shall approach her at
night, be anointed with clarified butter and silently beget one son, but by no means a second one.

36. Yatha vidy.. 9/70. In accordance with established law, the sister-in-law [bhabhi] must be
clad in white garments; with pure intent her brother-in-law [devar] will cohabitate with her until she

37. Ati kramay 9/77. Any women who disobey orders of her lethargic, alcoholic and
diseased husband shall be deserted for three months and be deprived of her ornaments.

38. Vandyashtamay. 9/80. A barren wife may be superseded in the 8th year; she whose children
die may be superseded in the 10th year and she who bears only daughters may be superseded in the
11th year; but she who is quarrelsome may be superseded without delay.

39. Trinsha. 9/93. In case of any problem in performing religious rites, males between the
age of 24 and 30 should marry a female between the age of 8 and 12.

40. Yambrahmansto. 9/177. In case a Brahman man marries Shudra woman, their son will be
called Parshav or Shudra because his social existence is like a dead body.
The Portuguese and Spanish were followed in their attempted conquest of the world for Catholicism, by
the Protestant Dutch and British, along with the Catholic French, who were much less inclined than their
Iberian predecessors towards cutting off heads to save souls. Their conquest began with trade Dutch
and British trading companies, backed by military force, which gradually wrested control of the Spanish
and Portuguese territories and global maritime trade through the 18th and 19th centuries. This trade was
centred trade in African slaves. The transatlantic slave trade of Africans was justified by the scriptures by
the Spanish and Portuguese, who used the same Bible to justify the mass-murder of the heathen
native inhabitants of the Americas. The missionaries followed, converting the survivors and subsequent
generations to Roman Catholicism.

Though he objected to corruption in the Catholic Church, such as indulgences and paying sums of
money to achieve forgiveness of sins, Martin Luther, the first Protestant, did not protest against the
crime of slavery. When King Henry VIII founded the Church of England in 1534, placing himself and his
descendants at its head, the last thing on his mind was releasing slaves. By the 1690s, the English were
shipping the most slaves from West Africa. They maintained this position during the 18th century,
becoming the biggest shippers of slaves across the Atlantic. By 1783, the triangular route that took
British-made goods to Africa to buy slaves, transported the enslaved to the West Indies, and then
brought slave-grown products such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton to Britain, amounted to 80 percent of
Great Britain's foreign income. The motive of the British and Dutch was money and ruthless exploitation
of land and resources (including human resources) rather than religion, though they may have justified
slavery from the Old Testament, which also declares that man was created to dominate and subdue
nature. Domination and subjugation was certainly the colonial strategy, along with divide and rule, for
which religion was a useful tool. In the first century AD, the Roman philosopher Lucius Seneca observed
that the common man thinks religion is true, the wise that it is false, and the rulers that it is useful.

Though the Christian Bible may have been used to justify slavery, and appears from some passages to
condone it, there existed slavery in many non-Christian cultures. In fact history suggests that for
hundreds, even thousands, of years it has been common practice that conquered peoples were
subjected to slavery by the victors. There was slavery in Asia and Africa before the Europeans arrived
there, and there was also slavery throughout the Moslem world. It is well known that the Arab Muslims
dominated the trade in African slaves to Asia long before the Portuguese appeared in the Indian Ocean
and began their competition for the spice trade with the Muslims.

It has been pointed out by Christian apologists that the movement to abolish slavery was led by religious
people, and specifically Christians, albeit not from the Anglican or Catholic mainstreams. William
Wilberforce, who led the abolitionist movement in Britain, underwent an evangelical conversion before
he was motivated to campaign for an end to slavery. The Quakers, who also led the abolitionist
movement, were an obscure, if influential, Christian sect, who preached fear (quaking) in the face of
God. They recognised the evils of slavery, when many other religious people did not. Was it because of
their inherent goodness or because of their religiosity that Wilberforce and other Christians opposed

Many scientists believe that we have what might be called religious instincts they say we have
evolved to attribute agency to the dramatic features and forces of inanimate nature, giving rise first to
animism and then to organized religion. Maybe this is true, but Im not so sure that the world will be a
better place if religion is replaced by science and rationality, even if this were possible. I do think that
teaching about evolution in schools, including the time frame of the various geological ages, the
movement of the continents on their respective tectonic plates, which explain everything from the
raising of the Himalaya mountains to the evolution of birds from dinosaur ancestors and the global
distribution of the human race from our origin in Africa, is essential for the children of the future.

The palaeontologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould, one of my intellectual heroes and an
internationally recognised authority on evolution, maintained, till his death in 2002 that there was no
necessary conflict between science and religion. He was strongly opposed to the teaching of Intelligent
Design (code name for creationism) in schools, because it is nonsense, but he did not generally criticise
religion or religious belief. Gould argued that religion and science are concerned with different domains.

Those who argue that science and religion are not incompatible might reasonably argue that science
explains the facts of the universe, developing falsifiable theories to explain various observations, which
are then tested by experiment what is, while religion is concerned with matters of morality and
conduct what should be, including what should be done (what we should do, individually and
collectively). Science is, in Goulds view, amoral, just as Nature is. Not immoral, just amoral. It makes
observations, but does not make judgements on what is good and evil. Judging what is good and evil is
very much the premise of religion, but what kinds of rules and judgements do the religions of the world
make, and how good (or evil) are they? Both science and religion make claims to truth does this make
a collision between them inevitable?
Being wrong and doing wrong

Dawkins published The God Delusion in 2006, preceded a few months earlier by the Channel 4 television
documentary The Root of all Evil? This was broadcast in two halves The God Delusion and The Virus of
Faith: (The God Delusion) (The Virus of Faith)

The titles of The God Delusion and The Root of all Evil are deliberately provocative. Dawkins is
prepared to go where most polite people fear to venture and deliberately confronts religious belief,
which he regards as inconsistent with Science. Science with a capital S. Dawkins has founded a
Foundation for Reason and Science and was the Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at
Oxford University. He clearly does not believe that to get along in society on should avoid discussing
religion or politics.

The first of these documentaries, The God Delusion, went to air in the UK in January 2006. Channel 4
said that 2/3 of the responses had been positive. The book The God Delusion was released in September
2006, and developed the themes of the documentary further. The documentary was uploaded to
YouTube on 5.7.2013 and has had 7,140 views so far (9.5.2015). An overwhelming majority of 68 likes
contrasts with 3 dislikes. This suggests that people generally agree with Dawkins views, at least on face
value. But 7,140 views is not many in almost two years. Maybe only Dawkins fans are inclined to view a
documentary titled The Root of All Evil that is not about money.

The Wikipedia page on the documentary says that Dawkins admitted that the title The Root of All Evil?
was not his preferred choice, but that Channel 4 had insisted on it to create controversy. This, he
apparently said on the Jeremy Vine Show on the BBC in 2006, but I have no way of knowing whether this
is true. Apparently the concession was the addition of the question mark, changing it from a statement
to a question.

The provocative title is obviously based on the popular saying that money is the root of all evil. The
more biblically-oriented capitalists emphasise the Bible says that it is not money but the love of
money that is the root of all evil and not money itself. But Dawkins and Channel 4 provide a polemic in
support of the idea that religion is the root of all evil (and not money or the love of it, which he does not

But what do they mean by religion, and what do they mean by evil? What other causes can be identified
for evil other than religion? Is human nature at the root of all evil, or is there also evil in nature? What
about the Devil is the Devil or Satan the root of all evil, as some religious people believe? Is belief in
the Devil without reference to the supernatural consistent with both science and atheism, or when we
reject the existence of God is it assumed that we also reject the existence of the Devil, the
personification of evil? What, perhaps more importantly, are the roles of such things as nationalism,
territorialism, authoritarianism, sexism, acquisitiveness, politics, racism and intolerance in causing evil?
There is also the problem of the evils created by scientists chemical weapons, land-mines, multi-barrel
rocket-launchers, AK 47s and other weapons, including nuclear bombs. Bombs may be used by religious
fanatics, but they are manufactured using scientific knowledge.

In the introduction of The Root of All Evil? Dawkins begins ominously, with what he regards as the
consummate evil in the world as he saw it in 2006:

There are would-be murderers all around the world who want to kill you, me and themselves
because they are motivated by what they think is the highest ideal. Of course, politics are
important Iraq, Palestine, even social deprivation in Bradford, but as we wake up to this huge
challenge to our civilized values, dont lets forget the elephant in the room, an elephant called

Dawkins is warning about the dangers of suicide bombers, who he implies are mostly male and
motivated by religious faith. His target for criticism is faith in Judaism, Christianity and Islam the
Abrahamic Religions, that all venerate what the Christians call the Old Testament. My limited
understanding is that in Judaism a variant of the Old Testament is venerated as the Torah, which is only
some of the corpus of Jewish religious literature. The Jews do not recognise Jesus as a prophet or
messiah, while Islam accepts Jesus of Nazareth as a prophet. Some schools of Islam also believe in the
Second Coming of Jesus and the Apocalypse, while the Jews are still waiting for the Messiah. In Islam,
from what little I understand of the religion, some of the Old Testament stories are accepted, including
the importance of the Old Testament prophets like Moses and Abraham and the six-day creation, but
there is considerable diversity and divergence of thought in Islamic scholarship about such things.

Dawkins admits that politics is important to understand the would be murderers that he imagines are
plotting evil suicide-bombings all over the world. He says they want to kill you, me and themselves,
This may be true in his case, given his public attacks on their faith, but Im confident that it is not the
case for myself. If I went around saying people wanted to kill me but I didnt know who they are I would
probably, given my circumstances, be locked back up in a mental hospital. He mentions the politics of
Iraq, Palestine and Bradford, but doesnt explore them, nor is there much depth in his analysis of the
problem of suicide bombers, who are not, by any means, responsible for most of the murders that occur
in the world today. Most murderers kill others and not themselves. Many of the murders are called
military operations, including many of the murders in Iraq and Palestine.
If one looks more carefully at the current threat of militant Islam in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, one
finds the USA and the West arming and training of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight a proxy war
against the atheist, communist Russians in the 1980s, giving rise to the Taliban. One finds the arming of
the secular regime of Saddam Hussein with chemical and biological weapons and support, by the USA
and West, of Hussein and number of other dictators around the world in the 1970s and 1980s. Palestine
and Iraq have long and complex histories, including the crusades and the centuries-old struggle for
control of Jerusalem and the Holy Land of the Bible. More recently, European colonization and
dominance, both cultural and political, and the colonial wars, culminating in the First and Second World
Wars, have fed Islamic militancy as well as nationalism in the previously colonized world. Islamic
militancy has many complexities and a long history. So does Christian militancy and Jewish militancy.
There have been plenty of militant Buddhists and Hindus in history, too, though Dawkins focuses only on
the Abrahamic religions.

It is a common and accurate perception, influenced by the media, but confirmed by statistics and the
actual statements of suicide bombers, that Islamic fundamentalism and extremism have been
responsible for most of the suicide bombings in the world since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in
Sri Lanka in May 2009. At the time that Dawkins and Channel 4 made this documentary its hard to see
how the LTTEs female suicide bombers, who were not motivated by belief in God or heaven to strap on
suicide vests and blow up both military and civilian targets, escaped the attention of Channel 4 and
Professor Dawkins. Christopher Hitchens, who also uses the example of suicide bombers as an argument
against all religion, corrected himself in later debates, when he made reference to the Tigers use of
suicide bombers as an exception to his pronouncements against Islam and, more broadly, religion.

According to Dawkins:

The suicide bomber is convinced that in killing for his God, he will be fast-tracked to a special
martyrs heaven. This isnt just a problem of Islam. In this program I want to examine that
dangerous thing that is common to Judaism and Christianity as well, the process of non-thinking
called faith.

He then states his position clearly:

I am a scientist, and I believe there is a profound contradiction between science and religious belief.

During their militant campaign for a separate state for Sri Lankan Tamils, which they called Tamil Eelam,
the organization known as the Tamil Tigers were a specific military and political entity formally known
as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE. The political ideology of the LTTE was ostensibly secular
and Marxist, and they drew inspiration from the liberation struggle of Cuban Marxists. This was their
ideology as espoused by the self-declared political strategist and theoretician of the LTTE, Anton
Balasingham, who spent his later years orchestrating the international political machinery of the LTTE
from London, together with his wife Adele, who, when the husband and wife team were still in Sri
Lanka, led the Womens Wing of the Tigers.
There is YouTube footage of Adele Balasingham handing out vials of cyanide to young women, who were
Tamil recruits for the LTTE, but all the supporters of the LTTE, including Adele Balasingham were not
Tamil (though all of the actual fighters were). These young women were expected to commit suicide by
swallowing the cyanide if they got caught. It is a scientific discovery that the ingestion of cyanide is fatal
at a certain dose and it was a scientific calculation that allowed the LTTE to know what dose to give
these women (most of whom were still girls). The guns that they carried and killed with were invented
and refined into ever-more murderous models through the genius of science. The suicide vests that
were pioneered by the Tigers were also contributions from Western science and technology.

At the same time, the LTTE cynically used religion and religious, as well as non-religious Tamil cultural
traditions to further their political and military agenda. Self-sacrifice is integral to the Hindu religion,
martyrdom as a direct route to Heaven is a feature of the Christian and Muslim religions. The LTTE
created a cult around its military leader, Vellupillai Prabakaran, who was hero-worshipped, but the
concept of martyrdom was promoted more for nationalistic reasons which were politically secular. The
suicide squad was given the self-identity of Black Tigers, and before they went on their suicide mission
they would be honoured by a dinner with the leader. Those who died in the cause were commemorated
in rituals that calculatingly drew on both Hinduism and Christianity. For example, Prabakaran was
insistent that the dead cadres as they were called, were buried in the Christian tradition rather than
cremated in the Hindu tradition, so that he could impress Western visitors with the determination and
sacrifice of the freedom fighters as evidenced by the cemeteries full of white crosses. The Australian
paediatrician, John Whitehall, who trained the LTTE medicos after the 2004 Asian tsunami, says that he
was very impressed by these cemeteries. He was supposed to be.

The LTTE welcomed any religion to kill and be killed in the interests of winning the war for self-
determination of the Tamils of Tamil Eelam. The state they aimed to create was secular, rather than
religious, but there was to be supremacy of two languages Tamil and English, rather than Sinhalese,
which was seen as the language of the enemy. Sinhalese was also the language of the majority of the
population of Sri Lanka, and this was one of the roots of the evil that ensued, but not the root of all
the evil of the war. There were many factors, some political, some social, some linguistic. All the killing
and maiming was done with weapons, developed through Western science, though much damage was
also done through words and propaganda, which were used to raise money for the war effort on both
sides. Though portrayed as an ethnic war between the Sinhalese and Tamils, there were many factors
that fed into the equation. Religion was one of them, in that the state religion of Sri Lanka is Buddhism
and the large majority of Sinhalese are Buddhist, with a small minority of Catholic and Protestant
Christians. The Tamils are mostly Hindu, also with a minority of Catholic and Protestant Christians. Most
of the members of the Sri Lankan army were Sinhalese and Buddhist, while most of the Tigers were
Hindu or Christian, adding a religious dimension to the conflict.

Language, though, is not the root of all evil any more than religion is. There is no root of all evil. Evil
has many causes, many roots. The challenge is to identify them, including the evils of certain religious
doctrines but also the evils of certain scientific doctrines, political doctrines, economic doctrines and
philosophical doctrines. One of the roots of evil is dogma and dogmatism, but there are scientific
dogmas and well as religious, political and social dogmas. It seems sensible and mature to look for the
evil in ones own belief system before attacking the beliefs of others, and to make a clear distinction
between the two different meanings of what it is to be wrong. Wrong can mean incorrect, it can also
mean evil or wicked. This is the important difference between mad and bad, between delusion and
crime. We all agree that crime is wrong (though we may differ on what constitutes a crime). Delusions
are also wrong, in that they are not true and correct beliefs, but they are not wrong in a moral sense.

There is an important difference between being wrong and doing wrong. Being wrong means that you
are mistaken, and this can be corrected. There is no moral condemnation of people being wrong, and
though they might resist admitting it to themselves or others, being wrong about things is not evil or
sinful. Doing wrong is a different matter. To do wrong is to sin and all sins are evil or wicked, according
to the shared religious traditions of East and West. Some sins, like murder, rape and stealing are
condemned by all religions except those that truly worship evil (and there are such religions, though
with fortunately few adherents).

The regime of Adolf Hitler is almost universally regarded as evil. The exception is the neo-Nazis who
continue to hero-worship Hitler and the Nazi regime, who are mostly in the West the UK and Europe,
and North America (the USA and Canada). I personally regard Hitler as one of most evil men in history
and regard the Nazis with revulsion, but not because of Hitlers supposed paganism and interest in
Theosophy. I dont care if Hitler was a vegetarian and cared about animals, nor if he truly loved Eva
Braun; what matters to me is the genocide that he presided over.

The undoubted evil of Hitler has been used by both sides of the argument for and against religion. The
atheists claim that Hitler was a Catholic, the Catholics claim that he was an atheist or pagan. The Nazis
used a swastika an ancient Indian sacred symbol rather the cross for their flags (though the swastika
has a cross as its integral design). The atheists also argue that the Catholic Church celebrated Hitlers
birthday, while their opponents argue back that it was under duress, and that Catholic priests tried to
save many Jews. I dont expect to resolve these arguments, but I think we can all agree that Hitler was
evil and so was the entire Nazi apparatus. In the 1940s, while this apparatus grew in power and danger,
and started killing the inmates of its mental asylums in anticipation of the Holocaust, the Germans led
the world not in religion but in science. After the war it was Nazi scientists who were recruited by the
Americans under Operation Paperclip, not German theologians.

The Holocaust was not caused by the isolated, deranged mind of an individual. The Nazi apparatus was a
highly organized, professional killing machine guided by the best scientific minds in the business and the
latest technology. German science was rivalled only by that of Japan, Britain, Russia and the USA, not
necessarily in that order. It was German drug company Bayer that gave the world heroin, which was
marketed as a non-addictive way of treating opium addiction. It was Germany that led the world in the
neurosciences the study of the brain, which advanced in leaps and bounds when they started killing
mental patients and collecting their brains, to section, stain and study under the microscope. The
University of Heidelberg had the biggest collection of brains, not in academia, but in formaline. It was
medical doctors, trained by psychiatrists, who decided, during the notorious Aktion T4 program, which
mental patients were curable or incurable. The German psychiatrist Professor Emil Kraepelin, who
first described dementia praecox (later named schizophrenia) and manic depression in the late
1890s, at the Heidelberg University was internationally recognised as an expert in classifying some
people as mad, with the assumption that the system (represented by himself) was sane. A few years
after Kraepelin died, these same criteria were used to decide whether to send people to the gas
chamber (another scientific achievement of the Germans). The Nazi psychiatrist Karl Schneider
orchestrated the killing of mental patients and collected their brains for the universitys collection. It
was all very scientific.

The other motivation for the evils of Nazism was the creation of an Aryan super-race. This was a
scientific aim, based on a nationalistic German interpretation of anthropology and history, but
rationalised by the Darwinian idea of survival of the fittest as interpreted by Darwins cousin, Francis
Galton at Cambridge University in England. This was the doctrine of eugenics, which Galton hoped
would become the religion of the future when he promoted it from the 1880s till his death in 1911.
Eugenics means good breeding, from the Greek eu meaning good and genos - meaning race, stock or
kin. The enthusiasts of eugenics hoped that the most superior classes and individuals of their various
nations should be encouraged to have large families, while the most inferior classes and individuals
should be sterilized, segregated and prevented from contributing their blood or inheritance to the
next generation. This was based on their understanding of Darwins evolutionary theory, as applied to
human society.

There is an inherent assumption here that science is good scientific status for a theory or hypothesis is
something to be desired. This is the result of the status of science which is based on its credibility,
which in turn is based on its marvellous achievements in various scientific disciplines. Its credibility is
based on its history and the technological wonders that have transformed human society - the motor
car, airplane, radio and TV, vaccines, knee and hip replacements, insulin and penicillin (and a range of
valuable drugs) not to mention the miracle of the computer. To a man living in the Stone Age, or even
the Middle Ages, these achievements would indeed be miraculous.

Dawkins has extended his debunking of religion to the debunking of what he regards as
pseudoscience, including the modern guru of Ayurveda, Dr Deepak Chopra. There is a lot to criticise in
Deepak Chopras science, including his interpretations of the Ayurvedic concepts of vata, pitta and
dosha types with corresponding herbal supplements, but Dawkins focused on his claims about
Quantum Healing:

Deepak Chopra says that Quantum Healing is the theory that a shift in consciousness causes a shift in
biology. This cannot be denied, but what does that have to with physics quantum theory? At first,
Chopra says that this is just a metaphor, but then he does on to try and justify his use of the term.
Dawkins isnt interested in trying to understand him, his agenda is to discredit Chopra as preaching
pseudoscience what another debater more rudely called woo-woo scientific-sounding words and
phrases that do not make sense on deeper consideration.

Deepak Chopra got a more sympathetic hearing from Dr Rupert Sheldrake, a British biologist who has
been writing about his theories about "Morphogenic Fields and Morphic Resonance, which he argues
supports the idea that minds can exist independent of brains. Chopra has control of the interview:

Reductionism and mechanistic frameworks dont work, according to Chopra.

Another application of Poppers paradigm is in the double-blind trials for various drugs, which has
evolved into so-called evidence-based medicine. The fact that drug trials are systematically biased in
favour of the drug companies, partly due to conscious but mostly due to unconscious factors has
increasingly become apparent. We all know that the drug companies are corrupt and that the drug
companies drive medical research, education and clinical practice. A young psychiatry registrar told me
recently that we all know that drug company corruption is rampant. He also admitted that the drug
companies drive medicine but completely failed to introspectively perceive the influence of this
corruption on his own thinking about medicine.

Popper defined what is and is not a scientific theory on the basis of whether it can be falsified. A
hypothesis or theory that cannot be falsified is not scientific, in his view. He argued that for this reason
contemporary Marxism and also Freudian psychoanalysis did not qualify as science. His scepticism
towards the pseudoscience of psychoanalysis arose after initially studying under Alfred Adler, who
developed psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud. Adler was the first major figure to break away from
psychoanalysis to form an independent school of psychotherapy and personality theory, which he called
individual psychology because he believed a human to be an indivisible whole, an individuum. Freud
declared Adler's ideas too contrary, leading to an ultimatum to all members of the Psychoanalytical
Society (which Freud led) to drop Adler or be expelled, disavowing the right to dissent.

There have been many reasonable allegations that Freuds methods were not scientific, nor were his
conclusions scientifically valid. There is no scientific evidence of the id, ego and superego, of the
Oedipus and Elektra complexes, and some of his more fanciful ideas. Others like ego defence
mechanisms, the pleasure principle and the role of the unconscious have been widely accepted by many
who dont believe in his declarations about penis envy or anal fixation.

Homo sapiens was named in 1758 by Linnaeus.

Scientists have made progress in their quest to understand why some people have light skin and others
have dark skin. I have basic belief in this science, but also some awareness of the mistakes accepted
scientific experts have made in the past. The inventor of zoological taxonomy, Baron Carl Von Linne
scientifically known as Carolus Linneaus (1707-1778), the Swedish biologist and physician who invented
the modern system of classification of living creatures and invented the system of Latin names that we
use to this day, classified humans of the 17th century as belonging to several species, based on his
understanding of science. Skin colour was the primary criterion he used in classifying humans as
belonging to different species, each in a respective continent.

The 1735 classification of Carolus Linnaeus, inventor of zoological taxonomy, divided the human race
Homo Sapiens into continental varieties of Europaeus, Asiaticus, Americanus and Afer, each associated
with a different humour: sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic respectively. Homo Sapiens
Europaeus was described as active, acute, and adventurous whereas Homo Sapiens Africanus was crafty,
lazy, and careless.

Linnaeus subdivided the human species into four varieties based on continent and skin colour:
"Europus albus" (white European), "Americanus rubescens" (red American), "Asiaticus fuscus" (brown
Asian) and "Africanus Niger" (black African). In the tenth edition of Systema Naturae he further detailed
stereotypical characteristics for each variety, based on the concept of the four temperaments from
classical antiquity, and changed the description of Asians' skin tone to "luridus" (yellow). Additionally,
Linnaeus created a wastebasket taxon "monstrosus" for "wild and monstrous humans, unknown groups,
and more or less abnormal people.

The Americanus: red, choleric, righteous; black, straight, thick hair; stubborn, zealous, free; painting
himself with red lines, and regulated by customs.[21]

The Europeanus: white, sanguine, browny; with abundant, long hair; blue eyes; gentle, acute, inventive;
covered with close vestments; and regulated by customs.[22]

The Asiaticus: yellow, melancholic, stiff; black hair, dark eyes; severe, haughty, greedy; covered with
loose clothing; and regulated by opinions.[23]

The Afer or Africanus: black, phlegmatic, relaxed; black, frizzled hair; silky skin, flat nose, tumid lips;
females without shame; mammary glands give milk abundantly; crafty, sly, careless; anoints himself with
grease; and regulated by will.[24]

The German anthropologist Johann Blumenbach (1752-1840), Professor of Medicine and Director of the
Museum of Natural History at Gottingen, included descriptions of sixty human skulls collected from
around the world to justify his view, which was regarded as scientific at the time (and is certainly more
scientific than the view that we are of different species), that humans were one species but of different
races, the defining characteristic being difference in skin colour. Blumenbach classified us belonging to
either the Caucasian or white race, the Mongolian or yellow race, including all East Asians and some
Central Asians, the Malayan or brown race, including Southeast Asian and Pacific Islanders, the Ethiopian
or black race, including sub-Saharan Africans or the American or red race, including American Indians.

Charles Darwin sided with those who regarded the different races as having a common ancestor, and
that we all belong to the same species, Homo sapiens. He only came out publicly with his theories about
the evolution of humans from primate ancestors in 1871, with The Descent of Man, having published the
revolutionary On the Origin of Species twelve years earlier in 1859. It did not take as long for Darwins
cousin Francis Galton to come out with Hereditary Genius, which was published in 1869, two years
before On the Origin of Species. Galton went on to found the Society for Eugenics with Charles Darwins
son, Major Leonard Darwin, which Galton envisaged as the religion of the future, where human
breeding is based on the rational science that allowed us to breed superior breeds of horses or dogs.
The superior races and classes would be encouraged to have large families and the inferior or
undesirable classes and races would be prevented from breeding. He also popularised the idea of
miscegenation pollution of blood lines. This was behind the policies of racial segregation, as well as
the idea that primitive races such as Australias Aborigines and Sri Lankas Veddhas, were naturally
destined to die out, and that nothing could be done to stop this.

In Hereditary Genius Galton, who pioneered the idea of IQ tests and statistical analyses of these, argued
that his research at Cambridge established that the African Black was, on average, two grades below
the White Caucasian in what he described as civic worth, which he equated with genius or
intelligence. His methodology pretended to be scientific and mathematical, though it was criticised at
the time (and has been since) as being neither. For example, he calculated civic worth on the number
of famous people and high-status professionals born into upper versus lower classes, to conclude that
upper class families are naturally endowed with genius. Differences in educational opportunities,
hereditary monarchies and aristocracies, nepotism and the other obvious reasons for people becoming
famous in European history or prominent in British society of the day (both were included without
discrimination between the two categories) were not considered in Galtons mathematical analyses of
civic worth. It so happened that his own family was such a family, liberally endowed with famous men,
though this doesnt disprove the possibility that some aspects of intelligence are indeed hereditary.
Musicality, for example, or ability with numbers or languages. Galton does not discuss such things his
conclusion, based on his experiences in Africa is that the African Blacks have a slavish instinct and
naturally fall into the ways of slavery. He formed this opinion after making the less than scientific
observation that porters who were employed to carry the loads, when he tried, unsuccessfully, to reach
Lake Nyasa from the Western Coast, regarded him their owner. Maybe the history of Europeans in
Africa had something to do with it.

Galton categorised British society according to the earnings of the male breadwinners to conclude that
the upper classes were genetically superior to the lower classes, but that there was a growing danger of
the superior, educated classes being out-bred by the inferior, less intelligent lower classes. He used bell
curves to illustrate his points, indeed his arguments were based on the application of statistical bell
curves. The same way as bell curves describe the variation in height in a society, Galton argued, so does
intelligence, as indicated by the IQ tests he devised and his evaluation of history. He argued that there
is, according to statistical probability, the occasional Black who reaches a prominent position by virtue of
his genius, such as Toussaint Louverture, who led the Haitian Revolution of 1791.

Race is also a scientific concept credited to Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (French
pronunciation: [ lwi lkl kt d byf]; 7 September 1707 16 April 1788) was a French naturalist,
mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author.

Buffon and Johann Blumenbach were believers in monogenism, the concept that all races have a single
origin. They also believed in the "Degeneration theory" of racial origins. They both said that Adam and
Eve were Caucasian and that other races came about by degeneration from environmental factors, such
as the sun and poor diet. They believed that the degeneration could be reversed if proper
environmental control was taken, and that all contemporary forms of man could revert to the original
Caucasian race.[11]

Buffon and Blumenbach claimed that pigmentation arose because of the heat of the tropical sun. They
suggested cold wind caused the tawny colour of the Eskimos. They thought the Chinese relatively fair
skinned compared to the other Asian stocks because they kept mostly in towns and were protected
from environmental factors. Buffon said that food and the mode of living could make races degenerate
and distinguish them from the original Caucasian race.[11]

Buffon believed humanity was only 6000 years old (the time since Adam). Believing in monogenism,
Buffon thought that skin colour could change in a single lifetime, depending on the conditions of climate
and diet.[12]

Buffon was an advocate of the Asia hypothesis; in his Histoire Naturelle, he argued that man's birthplace
must be in a high temperate zone. As he believed good climate conditions would breed healthy humans,
he hypothesized that the most logical place to look for the first humans' existence would be in Asia and
around the Caspian Sea region.

some of which have led humanity astray in the past, including those of Darwin, which directly led to
both Social Darwinism and the doctrines of eugenics, formulated by Darwins cousin, Francis Galton in
direct response to the Origin of Species. Galton applied Darwins theory, as he understood it, to
scientifically and statistically justify his conclusion that the African Black was, on average, two
grades less intelligent than the White race or Caucasians, whilst being grade
In 2014 Pope Francis announced that evolution and the big bang theory are in fact real, and one should
not gather from the Book of Genesis that God is a magician with a magic wand.

I do not believe in the supernatural or any of the Biblical miracles, nor any of the alleged miracles from
other religious traditions. I dont believe in supernatural miracles; I do believe in natural miracles.

The sun goes up in the sky as the morning progresses and performs various natural miracles as it moves
through the sky. Flowers open and leaves imperceptibly grow, birds start to sing and then grow quiet,
flocks of migratory birds and butterflies continue their journeys and, in the deep layers of the skin of
human beings that are exposed to its rays, melanocytes produce the brown pigment melanin and other
cells produce vitamin D from cholesterol. I believe, as a result of my medical training that Vitamin D is
necessary for the healthy growth of bones, and that deficiency of this vitamin causes the childhood
disease of rickets, that causes bones to weaken and deform. I also believe, on the basis of what I regard
as a sensible hypothesis I read some years ago, that it is the need to produce vitamin D that is most
likely the evolutionary cause of light and dark skin, although folic acid may have something to do with it,
as has been recently hypothesised. I also believe in the whole miracle of evolution by natural selection.

As I said, I do not regard these facts as miracles in the religious sense of the word. They are, though,
marvellous and awe-inspiring, they are numinous. They are also scientifically explainable, using what
science already knows.

as I think all things can be, though this might require a broadening of the definition of science beyond
the influential philosopher Karl Poppers stringent definition of what science is. Popper defined scientific
theories by falsifiability if a theory cannot be falsified, it is not truly scientific. At the same time, we
cannot be absolutely certain about anything just less doubtful.

Poppers definition has a certain elegance to it, and was taught to me as fact when I studied medicine in
the 1980s but it is not how most people, including scientists and doctors, think in practice. Much of what
we believe, we believe on the basis of faith faith in Science and faith in Medicine. This involves faith in
the integrity of other scientists and the integrity of the institutions that conduct science. How justifiable
is this faith, this belief in Science? How justified is it in Medicine? How much of medicine is science and
how much is the art of healing? What is the relationship between medicine and health, and where does
science come into it? What is the nature of the relationships between religion and health, religion and
medicine and religion and science?
To understand the relationship between science and religion we might consider the science of healing,
since all religions profess to heal and have ancient texts about what health is and how health can be
achieved. In the Western tradition healing has been dominated by medical doctors and Christian priests.
The doctors healed through science and the priests healed through prayer. The doctors did a far better
job of healing, and together with nurses, became accepted as the healing professions. Later clinical
psychologists, physiotherapists and other allied health professionals claimed the mantle of healing
professions. The credibility of the medical system is based on its claims to scientific truth and validity as
well as its results. Prayer too can be judged by its results, despite the fact that it makes no claim to be

An American study published in 2008 of over 1,600 patients undergoing heart surgery showed that
prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart
surgery. This study showed that patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of
post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms. The researchers suggested that this was
perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, with the patients feeling under pressure to get
well, and becoming more stressed as a result of this.

Over the years my faith in the integrity of Western science has taken something of a beating, and in
some areas my faith has been lost. This is a good thing, I think. In some areas I believed on the basis of
faith rather than evidence. I had faith in Medicine, based on the false assumption that Medicine is a
branch of science and that what I had learnt at university and in my hospital training was scientific
medicine. Science, from the Latin scientio means knowledge, and I assumed that what was in the
textbooks and came out of the mouths of professors was true knowledge. I was aware that mistakes
had been made by scientists and doctors in the past, but I assumed that the fundamentals of what I
learned in physics, chemistry, anatomy, pharmacology, physiology and biology were factual. I also had a
deep faith in the institutions that promulgated this knowledge universities, especially those in
Australia (where I studied), the UK (where I was born) and the USA (where most of my textbooks came

During the years I worked as a family doctor I grew increasingly disillusioned with the medical system for
a number of reasons. One was the role of the pharmaceutical industry big pharma as it is sometimes
called in shaping what medical students and doctors learn. This has a predictable effect on what they
prescribe when they are treating patients meaning which drug they choose, from a range of drugs
marketed under various labels. Sometimes the same drug is marketed under two brand names by the
same drug company to give the consumer an illusion of choice. Treating the public is a massive profit-
driven industry, driven by demand for treatment services, of which there are many alternatives.

The dominant treatment services are based on western medical science orthodox drug and surgery
oriented medicine based on a disease model. Much of the medical students training is concerned with
how to diagnose various diseases. This is based on history and examination, followed by appropriate
investigations to arrive (by logical reasoning) at the most likely diagnosis (disease label) along with less
likely possibilities (differential diagnosis). Once a provisional diagnosis has been made, this may be
confirmed by various investigations (such as scans or blood tests) or the patient may be treated entirely
based on the clinical examination. This is the style of medicine that I learned at the University of
Queensland in the 1980s, and my father learned at Cambridge University in the 1950s. The fundamental
style of western medicine have not changed, but there has been an increasing focus, since the 1950s, of
social and preventive medicine. In preventive medicine, the ostensible objective is to prevent illness
before it develops, which can be done through screening tests for various disease markers, and
promotion of healthy thinking and activities. Lending itself to corruption and abuse, preventive medicine
also promotes the ingestion of drugs, not for the treatment of illness but for its prevention. This means
giving drugs to people who are, at the present moment, perfectly well, based on statistical evidence that
the drug, for example, lowers cholesterol or blood pressure.

There are good scientific reasons for treating high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, based on
convincing evidence that both promote atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which in turn leads
to ischaemic heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. The pathogenesis of ischaemic heart disease,
stroke and kidney failure are amongst the areas of medicine about which much is known, and many
scientific studies have been done. They have also provided a bonanza for drug companies and
advertisers who used fear of cholesterol to market everything from low cholesterol potato chips to
statin drugs (one of the biggest components of the pharmaceutical budget).

I was working as a family doctor (GP) in Melbourne, when the first statin drugs were released. Prior to
these drugs there were unpleasant drinks that were supposed to lower the cholesterol, but it was only
with the release of the statins in the 1990s, that it became a central drug in cardiology. Studies have
shown that the statins, by raising the ratio of good (HDL) to bad (LDL) cholesterol, reduce the
recurrence rate after heart attacks. They have not been shown to reduce stroke, peripheral vascular
disease or ischaemic kidney disease, which are also thought to be caused by atherosclerosis (which is
macroscopically visible as blockages of arteries).

The difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol was ignored (though known) in the interests of
marketing. While I was testing and monitoring the HDL/LDL ratio in my patients with angina and heart
disease in the 1990s, there were still drug company reps and ads referring to cholesterol as if it is some
sort of poison, and urging people to have simple screening tests to measure their total cholesterol.
This was bad science and frightened people unnecessarily (perhaps increasing their rate of
atherosclerosis), since the total cholesterol includes both cardio-toxic and cardio-protective types (LDL
or low density lipoprotein and HDL or high density lipoprotein respectively).

The known fact that cholesterol is a vital and essential molecule in human physiology was pushed from
consciousness, outside that of biochemists and endocrinologists who knew that this ubiquitous
molecule is an essential component of cell walls, and the precursor to all the steroid hormones as well
as vitamin D. Instead the public came to believe that cholesterol is bad and statins are good. That is,
until people started becoming sick with muscle pains, diabetes and the other problems that can be
caused by statins. There were also reports that the statins could cause decline in cognitive function.

The physical sciences and the social sciences.

There were some areas in which I was less confident about the sources I was learning from, as far as
their scientific merits were concerned. These were psychology, sociology and psychiatry. I only did a
couple of semesters of anthropology and found only the first one when we learned about
Australopithecus, Homo erectus and Homo habilis fossil discoveries in Africa of interest. The rest of
the humanities was, to my increasingly materialist, rationalist way of thinking, too vague and
imprecise. There was much jargon, but the terms were poorly defined, there was little convincing
evidence with numerous rival theories and every study pointed out how little we know. This attitude is
sometimes genuine scientific humility, were every statement and conclusion is appropriately qualified.
At other times it is used to justify further research grants, or to avoid actually saying anything clearly.
This was, after all, the Age of Behaviorism.

Though what has been retrospectively called the Cognitive Revolution had begun two decades earlier in
the same nations that gave us behaviourism, here in the Antipodes, I learned, in 1978, that psychology
is defined as the behavior of organisms and that psychology is both scientific and curious. It is
certainly curious, and one of the curious things about behaviourism is how they ignored the importance
of mind and thinking when they scientifically studied the psyche. I did not gain an understanding of
the psyche from my prescribed psychology textbook, because this textbook was Psychology and Life by
Stanford Universitys Philip Zimbardo. Zimbardo is best known for the glaringly unethical Stanford Prison
Experiment, conducted by the psychology professor in 1971.

This famous (or notorious) experiment was conducted from 14 to 20, August, 1971. It was funded by the
US Navy and Marine Corps and was conducted in a mock prison which was constructed in the
basement of the Stanford psychology building. Zimbardo advertised for students who were interested in
being paid $15 a day to participate in the research into prison life. They selected 24 young men, who
were thought to be psychologically well balanced, dividing them (how randomly one cant tell) into 12
guards and 12 prisoners. Zimbardo himself took the role of superintendent. The prisoners were forced
to stay in the basement prison for the week, while the guards were allowed to go home after an 8-hour
shift. Over the duration of the experiment, the guards, who had been instructed to psychologically but
not physically abuse the prisoners, became increasingly tyrannical and cruel as the experiment
progressed, devising what can only be described as evil ways of humiliating and demeaning their fellow
students who had been assigned the role of prisoner. Original video footage of the experiments can be
found on YouTube, as well as many interviews where Zimbardo refers to his seminal research into the
nature of evil.

The Stanford Prison Experiment was bad science, in that it was immoral. This immorality was apparent
from the outset, but only one of Zimbardos co-researchers objected to it (resulting in the experiment
being ceased a day early). The conclusions Zimbardo reached were also flawed, as subsequent research
has shown, and the US military, which funded the research, appears to have learned nothing from the
well-known experiment other than to refine its psychological torture techniques. How to torture
effectively is what Zimbardo was clearly studying in the first place, though he claimed to be testing (and
successfully refuting) a scientific hypothesis (that inherent personality traits of individual soldiers and
guards are the main cause of the abuse of prisoners, rather than social factors, such as the power of the
system, and assigned roles). Zimbardos interpretation of the experiment was that prisoners and guards
internalized their identities as prisoners and guards respectively, the prisoners becoming submissive
and passive, and the guards becoming increasingly sadistic and cruel. One problem, both ethically and
scientifically, was the instruction he gave the 12 guards the day before the experiment began:

You can create in the prisoners feelings of boredom, a sense of fear to some degree, you can
create a notion of arbitrariness that their life is totally controlled by us, by the system, you, me,
and theyll have no privacy. Were going to take away their individuality in various ways. In
general what all this leads to is a sense of powerlessness. That is, in this situation well have all
the power and theyll have none.

Another problem is that he armed the guards with wooden batons. The prisoners did not know that
Zimbardo had instructed to inflict only psychological and not physical harm on the prisoners. Where,
though, is the line between what is psychological and what is physical, and is it not obvious that threats
of violence, backed by weapons and locked doors, can create submission? It was said, long before
Zimbardo studied the matter, that power corrupts. He himself referred to the experiment as being to do
with power and powerlessness.

Is knowledge power, or does power come from locked doors, batons and reflecting sunglasses? This
experiment does tell us something about power, and how it was misunderstood by Zimbardo and the
many social psychologists who drew dubious conclusions about the relationship between power and evil
from the Stanford Prison Experiment and Zimbardos interpretation of it.

It doesnt help that Professor Zimbardo has long sported a little goatee beard, that makes him look
rather like the stereotypical image of Satan. There are more sympathetic photos of him, but I rather like
this one.

Naming something is not explaining it, identifying is not either.

Western science and Science

Douglas Nakashima and Marie Rou have made a clear distinction between Western science and
traditional knowledge, which they equated with Indigenous knowledge. In 2002 they explained, in
the Encyclopaedia of Global Environmental Change that Western science favours analytical and
reductionist methods as opposed to the more intuitive and holistic view often found in traditional
knowledge. Western science is positivist and materialist in contrast to traditional knowledge, which is
spiritual and does not make distinctions between empirical and sacred. Western science is objective and
quantitative as opposed to traditional knowledge, which is mainly subjective and qualitative. Western
science is based on an academic and literate transmission, while traditional knowledge is often passed
on orally from one generation to the next by the elders. Western science isolates its objects of study
from their vital context by putting them in simplified and controllable experimental environments
which also means that scientists separate themselves from nature, the object of their studies;-by
contrast, traditional knowledge always depends on its context and particular local conditions.

The Western medical model is not the only scientific model that claims to be able to heal. There are also
rival Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Indian Ayurvedic models that compete for customers in
Australia and the West, as in India and China. In addition, there are various Western healing methods
that claim scientific validity but are regarded, for various reasons as alternative or complementary
medicine naturopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy and herbalism, for example. A few Western-trained
doctors like Deepak Chopra have attempted a fusion between Vedic and Western science, but there are
serious problems with this enterprise. I discovered this when I tried to integrate Eastern and Western
health models twenty years ago.

When I was working as a GP in Melbourne in the 1990s, I was once consulted by a young woman who
had visited an acupuncturist for a sprained wrist. She had been told, after an examination of her tongue
and pulse, that she had warm Chi affecting the spleen and cold Chi affecting her kidneys. She had
also been told that she needed to take a concoction of herbs to correct the moistness in her liver. The
lady was insistent that I do some blood tests to check her liver, kidneys and spleen. I took a careful
history and examined her, finding no signs of kidney or liver disease, nor evidence of enlargement of her
spleen, and tried to explain to her that what Chinese medicine means by liver, kidney and spleen
is not really the same as what these organs mean to Western doctors. She wanted the blood tests
anyway, so I ordered performed a biochemical screen checking her electrolytes, liver function tests
and blood count. They were all, as I expected them to be, normal.
This event prompted me to look more closely at the theoretical basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) to see if the core concepts of Yin and Yang, chi and meridians can be understood in terms of the
fundamental Western scientific medical disciplines of anatomy and physiology. The meridians are
channels through which the chi (which I interpreted as energy of some sort) flowed. The meridians,
which determine acupuncture points, do not correspond to either the nervous system or circulatory
system in anatomy or function, and they have to be added on rather than integrated with Western

The concepts of Yin and Yang are also integral to Chinese Medicine. Yin (black with the white spot in the
symbol) is the feminine and Yang (white with the black spot) is the masculine, which has obvious
correspondence with Western science. One could regard the female hormones, like oestrogen, as Yin
and the masculine hormones like testosterone as Yang, as well as other distinctly feminine and
masculine aspects of anatomy, physiology and psychology. This is not what yin and yang mean in
Chinese medicine, science and philosophy, however.

Wikipedia explains that In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also, yin-yang or yin yang) describes how
apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and
interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one
another. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, and male and female) are
thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang. This duality lies at the
origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary
guideline of traditional Chinese medicine.

Chris Kressler, armed with a Master of Science but not a medical degree claims to be practicing
integrative and functional medicine, and has his own website that announces:

Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac is a globally recognized leader in the fields of ancestral health, Paleo
nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine.

Kressler assures his readers that acupuncture does work, and provides purely scientific explanations for
why it works. Scientific, meaning Western scientific. The fact that the Chinese meridian system does not
correspond to the nervous system, does not stop some Kressler from claiming that acupuncture works
through its effects on the nervous system and stimulation of pain receptors in the skin. This he says
restores homeostasis, increases blood flow to the area, and causes the release of pain-killing hormones
(endorphins) from the brain. This theory is scientific and also satisfies Carl Poppers criterion that a
scientific theory be falsifiable. The theory that acupuncture works because of the release of endorphins
can be tested and measured, supporting or disproving the theory. Kressler gives no evidence that he is
basing his claims on such studies, or whether this is mere speculation.

In his posting on how he thinks acupuncture works Kressler makes reference to purists who object to
these efforts to explain acupuncture in Western scientific terms, thinking that it takes the magic out of
acupuncture. Kressler claims that equating chi (qi) with energy is incorrect, and that the original
meaning of qi was air which he equates with oxygen. He writes: When the terms qi (oxygen), mai
(vessel) and jie (neurovascular node) are properly translated, it becomes clear that there is no
disagreement between ancient Chinese medical theory and contemporary principles of anatomy and
physiology. Chinese medicine is not a metaphysical, energy medicine but instead a flesh and bones
medicine concerned with the proper flow of oxygen and blood through the vascular system.

Kressler is a big admirer of Chinese Medicine and claims that the Chinese knew much more about
anatomy and physiology than the West, with a tradition of anatomical dissection dating back over 2000
years. He says that the ancient Chinese identified and weighed all the internal organs, and knew that the
heart pumps blood around the body long before scientists in the West. This discovery, Kressler claims,
was made by the Chinese more than 2000 years ago but only discovered in western medicine in the
early 16th century.

Presumably, Kressler is referring to the famous discovery of the heart-lung circulation by the British
physician William Harvey (1578-1657). Harvey described in detail how the left side of heart pumps blood
to the body, after receiving oxygenated blood from the lungs and that the blood is pumped to the lungs
from the right side of the heart via the pulmonary artery. He also described in detail how the
oxygenated blood from the left side is distributed through arteries, beginning with the aorta, to the
head and brain, and to the rest of the body. The ancient Chinese knew nothing of these things, though
they may well have known that the heart is the organ pumps blood. So did, we can be confident, did the
ancient Greeks, since this was the reason that Aristotle proposed that that the soul resides in the heart
in the 3rd century BC. This curious idea arose from his quite reasonable, but incorrect, view that thought
is carried in the blood. He obviously knew that the heart was the organ that pumped the blood.

Kressler makes the rather startling claim that Chinese medicine was used by emperors and the royal
courts to help them live into their 90s and stay fertile into their 80s at a time when the average life
expectancy in the west was 30 years. Men do remain fertile into their 80s, and since recorded history
some individuals have lived into their 90s. There has never been a time in recorded history when life
expectancy in the West was 30, and besides, average life expectancy does not indicate the length of life
of the longest-living individuals. Besides, if one is going to take 2000-year-old texts seriously one might
also conclude that the medicine of the ancient Jews enabled the patriarch Abraham to live hundreds of

Contradicting himself in his claim that TCM is a continuous tradition for 2,500 years, Kressler says that
the Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperors Book of Internal Medicine) is written in a dialect of Chinese that
hadnt been in common use in China for more than a thousand years and that you could show it to a
modern Chinese person and they wouldnt be able to read it.

The first westerner to attempt a translation of the Huangdi Neijing, according to Kressler, was a Dutch
physician named Willem ten Rhijne who worked for the Dutch East India Company in Japan from 1683-
1685. He apparently reported clinical success by Chinese and Japanese practitioners in treating a wide
range of disorders, including pain, internal organ problems, emotional disorders and infectious diseases
prevalent at the time. Kressler says that Ten Rhijne accurately translated the Chinese character for qi as
air, not energy, in his reports to the Dutch government.

The translation that became the source for all of the textbooks used in western schools of Chinese
medicine, says Kressler, was done by a man named Georges Soulie de Morant, a French bank clerk who
lived in China from 1901 to 1917. Enamoured with Chinese culture and philosophy, he became
interested in Chinese medicine and attempting to translate the Huangdi Neijing, in spite of the fact that
he had no medical training nor any training in ancient Chinese language.

Kressler writes:

It was a huge undertaking for a French bank clerk to translate a 2,000 year old medical text
written in an extinct Chinese dialect into a modern romance language (French). Under the
circumstances, de Morant did well in many respects. But he made some huge mistakes that had
serious consequences for how Chinese medicine has been interpreted in the west.

Far from being a scientific document, the Huangdi Neijing is mystical in its explanation of the laws of

The laws of diagnosis [are as follows]:

As a rule, it is at dawn,

before yin qi has begun its movement,

before yang qi is dispersed,

before beverages and food have been consumed,
before the conduit vessels are filled to abundance,
when the [contents of the] network vessels are balanced,
before the qi and blood move in disorder,
that, hence, one can diagnose an abnormal [movement in the] vessels.

Squeeze the vessels, whether [their movement] is excited or quiet, and observe the essence-brilliance.
Investigate the five complexions.

whether the five depots have a surplus or an insufficiency,
whether the six palaces are strong or weak, and
whether the physical appearance is marked by abundance or decays.

All this is brought together to reach a conclusion [enabling one] to differentiate

between [the patient's] death and survival.

The ancient Chinese obviously knew about vessels and blood, but what are the five depots and the
six palaces?

The Hungarian Sinologist Imre Galambos argues, in reference to the Huangdi Neijing and its influence,
that while in the modern, scientific West it is customary to think that the newer a thing is the better,
in traditional Chinese thought this appears to be just the opposite; a new thing could be justified and
accepted if one could prove that it has been already mentioned and thought of in ancient times. As a
result of this traditionalistic approach, medicine in China has been regarded as a body of knowledge
which has undergone very little, if any, changes through the span of history.

Other patients wondered if I knew which foods they should eat to correct their doshas, after reading
Deepak Chopras books, expounding the importance of understanding whether you are of the vata, pitta
or kapha physiological types. I had a more open mind about Indian and Chinese medicine than most of
my colleagues, and believed that acupuncture worked, though I didnt understand how. I even referred
a few patients to acupuncturists, with mixed results. I also had mixed results from my referrals to
medical specialists, psychologists and physiotherapists. I never referred anyone to a herbalist or
naturopath and, as I do today, believed that homeopathy is pure placebo.

In 1995 a friend gave me a copy of Book of the Hopi, about the myths of the Hopi Indian tribe in the USA.
It was written in 1963 by Frank Waters, and became popular with the New Age movement. In this book
Waters draws a comparison between the scientific model of the Hopi and that of the Hindus, in their
ideas of energy centres along the axis, known in the Hindu tradition by the Sanskrit word chakra. I was
particularly interested in Waters association of the brow chakra with the pineal organ, a small organ in
the centre of the brain that Descartes had argued, back in the 17th century, was the seat of the soul.

This was my starting point in trying to integrate the Western science in which I was trained with the
Eastern models of India and China. I first considered the concept that we have energy centres or nodes
along our vertebral axis, and the possibility that, for example, our speech is related to the health of our
thyroid. There is a possible association when the thyroid is underactive, speech is slower. When it is
over-active metabolism and activity, perhaps including speech, are increased. The same cannot be said
for the parathyroid glands, which are also in the throat, embedded in the lobes of the thyroid gland. The
parathyroids are involved in calcium metabolism, secreting the parathyroid hormone to regulate blood
levels of calcium. Calcium has a range of cellular functions, and is essential for both muscle contraction
and nerve conduction. Underactivity and overactivity of the parathyroids affects the bones but do not
affect speech. Likewise, most of the activity of the thyroids has little to do with speech, and less to do
with hearing, which is also said to be controlled by the throat chakra.

According to Wikipedia the Vishuddha chakra is located in the neck and the throat. Due to its
association with hearing, it is related to the ears, and due to its association with speaking, it is associated
with the mouth. Vishuddha is often associated with the thyroid gland in the human endocrine system.
Adding the parathyroids to the activity of the Vishuddha chakra allows one to link the chakra also with
the muscles and nerves. But what does this mean in practice, and how does it help us to promote

The first chakra I considered deeply was the brow chakra known as Ajna (Sanskrit: ) chakra.
The ajna chakra is associated with the third eye of Shiva in Hindu cosmology and iconography. The
third eye is represented in the spot drawn on the forehead of Hindu women, which in Tamil culture is
called a pottu. The British missionaries banned Tamil girls from wearing pottus because of the customs
pagan implications. The Third Eye, in addition to being possessed by Shiva, was also the eye for
perceiving truth. Depictions of the Buddha traditionally include the Third Eye, though pottus are not
worn by Buddhists.
The association between the pineal and the third eye is not as ancient as I assumed for many years. It is,
I have since read, the product of the fertile imagination of Helena Blavatsky, author of the Secret
Doctrine and guiding light of the Theosophical Society. As far as I can tell the ancient Indians did not
know anything about the internal structure of the brain, and neither did the Chinese. Though the pineal
is placed at the centre of the meridian system in modern Chinese medicine, that is because the main
meridian runs through the midline. The ancient Chinese and Chinese in the middle ages knew as little
about the structure and function of the brain as their contemporaries in India and Europe.

The traditional Chinese and Indian models of medicine are linked to their respective cosmologies in a
way that western medicine is not linked with Western cosmology. In fact western medicine has nothing
whatsoever to do with the Big Bang, planetary movements or movements of the sun and moon.
Western medicine ignores the wind and largely ignored the climate till it discovered Seasonal Affective
Disorder with the marketable acronym of SAD. Not so traditional Indian and Chinese models. Vata,
which refers to the element of wind and the wind god in Hinduism also finds expression as the vata
dosha, interpreted by Chopra as a physiological type. In Chinese medicine Yin and Yang refer to the
feminine and masculine respectively, but also to the moon (yin) and sun (yang). There are 365
acupuncture points because of the number of days in the year, while the Five Elements (wood, fire,
earth, metal, water) are integral to the Chinese model in the same way that the Four Elements (fire,
earth, air and water) were integral to Medieval European and Islamic models of health. The four
elements of the ancient Greeks gave rise to the humoral theory which held that health is regulated by
the flow of humours black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm.

The first people to note the existence and propose the importance of the pineal were the ancient
Greeks. Herophilus (325-280 BC) according to the writings of Galen (130-220 AD) thought that the pineal
was a valve regulating the flow of spiritus between the ventricles of the brain. Galen himself though
the pineal was a gland. The French philosopher, scientist and mathematician Descartes (1596-1650)
probably drew on the ideas of Herophilus when he proposed that the pineal was the seat of the soul
the point at which the soul communicated with the brain.
Descartes also proposed that that pineal was connected to the eyes, as this famous drawing shows:

During the centuries after Descartes the pineal was gradually relegated to obscurity. From being the
proposed seat of the soul, it came to be regarded as a primitive vestige of the reptilian brain, with no
function in humans. This view was confirmed by the fact that the pineal calcifies with age these
calcifications were given the evocative name of brain sand.

In 1957 edition of Arthur Hams Histology has a photograph of a microscopic section of the pineal
parenchyma and the explanation that:

The pineal body of mammals is the vestige of the median eye which was probably a functioning
organ in certain amphibian and reptiles that are now extinct. Like other vestigial organs in man,
it tends to reach its greatest development relatively early in life and thereafter to degenerate.
One evidence of the latter process is the formation of calcified bodies of a laminated
appearance in the organ. These constitute what is called brain sand. (p.746)

When I say that everything can be explained by science, this is a statement of faith in the future. There
are many things that cannot currently be explained by science and maybe there are things that cant be.
The famous zoologist Steven Jay Gould, whose books shaped my understanding of evolution more than
any other influence, argued that science and religion are different domains. They ask different
questions, and there is no necessary conflict between religion and science. Professor Richard Dawkins
has a very different view. He believes that there is a profound contradiction between science and
religious belief.
Dawkins argues, Science is a discipline of investigation and constructive doubt questing with logic,
evidence and reason to draw conclusions. Faith, by sharp contrast, demands a positive suspension of
critical faculties. Science proceeds by setting up hypotheses, ideas or models, and then attempts to
disprove them. So a scientist is constantly asking questions, being sceptical. Religion is about turning
untested belief into unshakable truth, through the power of institutions and the passage of time.

In the same documentary in which he makes these statements about science and religion, Dawkins tells
an anecdote about how science ideally progresses:

I do remember one formative influence in my undergraduate life. There was an elderly

professor in my department who had been passionately keen on a particular theory for a
number of years. And one day an American visiting researcher came and he completely and
utterly disproved our old mans hypothesis. The old man strode to the front, shook his hand and
said, My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years. And we
clapped our hands raw.

This anecdote actually suggests that scientists, like any other person, do not accept their mistakes
readily. Otherwise there would have been no reason to clap their hands raw. In fact the history of
science suggests a battle of egos, reflected in the hierarchies of the scientific and medical
establishments. And then there is the question of money. Who pays the piper calls the tune. This is the
case with medical research as well as scientific research more widely.

Christopher Hitchens was the author of God Is Not Great[9] and was named among the "Top 100 Public
Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazine. In addition Hitchens served on the advisory
board of the Secular Coalition for America. In 2010 Hitchens published his memoir Hitch-22 (a nickname
provided by close personal friend Salman Rushdie, whom Hitchens always supported during and
following The Satanic Verses controversy).[10] Shortly after its publication, Hitchens was diagnosed with
esophageal cancer, which led to his death in December 2011.[11] Before his death, Hitchens published a
collection of essays and articles in his book Arguably;[12] a short edition Mortality[13] was published
posthumously in 2012. These publications and numerous public appearances provided Hitchens with a
platform to remain an astute atheist during his illness, even speaking specifically on the culture of
deathbed conversions and condemning attempts to convert the terminally ill, which he opposed as "bad

Daniel Dennett, author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea[16] and Breaking the Spell[17] and many others, has
also been a vocal supporter of The Clergy Project,[18] an organization which provides support for clergy
in the US who no longer believe in God, and cannot fully participate in their communities any longer.[19]
My cosmology has no need of the supernatural, though much is unexplained, and some may be
unexplainable. Even less is provable by empirical science. My cosmology has room for God, not as a
supernatural deity, but as an abstract term for Good or goodness. I am convinced that we made gods in
our image rather than the Biblical idea that He made us in his image. Goodness is obviously not male
or female, however the creation of the universe was good (not just from our perspective as humans, but
certainly that). By this definition, one cannot speak of God doing something, only whether something
done was God. Therein lies the problem with my simple suggestion that God is goodness. The God of
many religions, in fact all religions, do things. They have agency. They are supernatural and I dont think
anything is above Nature.

Over the past few weeks I have been catching up with debates about religion, science and belief, after
reading two books I have had for some years The Astonishing Hypothesis by Francis Crick and Kind of
Minds by Daniel Dennett. Links to the video debates on the subject can be found later in this essay,
along with commentary.

Another YouTube clip of Francis Crick was recorded shortly before he died and is titled History of
Neuroscience: Francis Crick (it is the history of Cricks work and not a general history of neuroscience).
It is published on Youtube by the Society for Neuroscience, that boasts only one other interview in its
History of Neuroscience series an interview from 2001 with the psychiatrist Eric Kandel, who won a
Nobel Prize for his questionable work with schizophrenia and dopamine. (Francis Crick) (Eric Kandel, interview from 2001)

The Koch that Crick speaks of is Christof Koch, who collaborated with him in his studies of the monkey
visual system. Koch can be seen in this YouTube discussion:

Adenosine receptors what are they?

Distribution of adenosine receptors in the postmortem human brain: an extended autoradiographic

P Svenningsson

P Svenningsson

H Hall

H Hall

G Sedvall

G Sedvall

Bertil B Fredholm

Bertil B Fredholm

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Synapse (Impact Factor: 2.43). 01/1998; 27(4):322-35. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-


Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Whole-hemisphere sections from six subjects were used in a quantitative autoradiographic
study to characterize and to investigate the distribution of adenosine receptors, using [3H]DPCPX,
[3H]CGS 21680, and [3H]SCH 58261 as radioligands. [3H]DPCPX-binding showed the pharmacology
expected for adenosine A1 receptors and is therefore taken to mirror adenosine A1 receptors.
Adenosine A1 receptors were widely distributed, with the highest densities in the stratum
radiatum/pyramidale of the hippocampal region CA1. Adenosine A1 receptors were nonhomogeneously
distributed in nucleus caudatus, globus pallidus, and cortical areas: In the cingulate and frontal cortex
the deep layers showed the highest labeling, while in the occipital, parietal, temporal, and insular cortex
it was highest in the superficial layers. In addition, we found very high levels of adenosine A1 receptors
in structures known to be important for cholinergic transmission, especially the septal nuclei. The Bmax
values and KD values for [3H]DPCPX-binding in stratum radiatum/pyramidale of CA1 and the superficial
layer of insular cortex were 598 and 430 fmol/mg gray matter and 9.9 and 14.2 nM, respectively.
[3H]CGS 21680-binding was multiphasic, but showed the pharmacology expected for adenosine A2A
receptors and was taken to represent them. Adenosine A2A receptors were abundant in putamen,
nucleus caudatus, nucleus accumbens, and globus pallidus pars lateralis. Specific [3H]CGS 21680-binding
was also found in certain thalamic nuclei and throughout the cerebral cortex. The adenosine A2A
receptor antagonist radioligand [3H]SCH 58261 was also found to label these extrastriatal structures.
Thus, adenosine A2A receptors seem to be more widely distributed in the human brain than previously